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How can we best support non- traditional students adapt to university level study? Lin Norton Emeritus professor of pedagogical research Liverpool Hope.

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Presentation on theme: "How can we best support non- traditional students adapt to university level study? Lin Norton Emeritus professor of pedagogical research Liverpool Hope."— Presentation transcript:

1 How can we best support non- traditional students adapt to university level study? Lin Norton Emeritus professor of pedagogical research Liverpool Hope University 12 September 2012Nazarene Theological College1

2 I’ve always been a late developer

3 1.Who are your non-traditional students? 2.What are the main issues around supporting them?

4 Mature students: What the literature says Hartley (1997) found NO differences between mature and younger students on ability, academic performance, attitudes to teaching Hartley also found that mature students are BETTER on deep learning, time management, cheat less. Burton, Golding,Lloyd & Griffiths (2011) found that the traditional barriers of accessibility of the institution, finance and family commitments did not seem to be an issue for mature students. Contact with students early in the process seems to allay many of the fears about returning to study, particularly at HE level Richardson (2012) found older students just as positive about digital learning as youngers students There is no doubt though that mature students do lack confidence in being able to perform academically (rusty in writing skills, anxious about exams) Access courses offer an educational culture that is different to that of universities (Hayes, King & Richardson, 1997)

5 International students: what the research has to say Higher anxiety; differences in beliefs about learning and knowledge can be at odds with knowledge that is required to master a specific discipline; exams penalise international students beyond difference in ability levels (De Vita, 2002) Culture shock: ‘constructions, cultures and clashes (Bartram 2008) Little or no experience of types of assessment commonly used in UK universities (e.g. essays, reports, reflective essays, seminar presentations Unfamiliar with style of critical thinking expected Unaware of academic expectations of independent reading (Turner & Ponton, 2009) Difficulties in distinguishing between spoken and written styles in English texts (Al Fadda, 2012)

6 University level study is a transition for all students Barnett (2008) talks about uncertainty not just out in the world but inside ourselves- students feel uncertain, anxious but also exhilarated. He argues that ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ is the foundation of what it means to be a student and likens it to a bunjee jumper where the pedagogical situation should provide exhilarating (but safe) spaces to take those risks and confront those fears.

7 What are some of the issues facing higher education? The future is unknowable and unpredictable Life is fast and change is even faster 7

8 The context of HE: key areas of uncertainty Level of economic growth Public funding of HE Government regulation of fees and quality Cost pressure on institutions Quality of provision Changes in pre-18 education and training Student and employer demand Changing aspirations Internationalisation Impact of technology on learning Levels of study flexibility The nature of the HE workforce and human resources management The future of HEIs as we know them Source: Universities UK (2008) The future size and shape of the higher education system in the United Kingdom 8

9 9 What personal qualities do universities want from students? Students who show: 1.Self organisation 2.Independence 3.Motivation 4.Are willing to take a ‘deep’ rather than a ‘surface’ approach 5.Perseverance in the face of ‘failure’ 6.Others?

10 Principles of effective learning from the research Affective/relationships Autonomy (gradual and supported) Self efficacy/mastery Confidence Constructive and frequent feedback Ownership of learning Identity with the discipline Sense of belonging with the institution 10

11 Learning is an emotional business

12 ‘Personhood in the learning journey’ (Broadfoot 2008) ‘pursuit of learning as a co-operative enterprise,’ but currently in HEI’s: 1.depersonalisation – students not seen as individuals; 2.too much focus on content, not about the people we are teaching; 3.modular system does not encourage learning communities of students; 4.‘the alienated student’ (Mann, 2001, 2005) - like conscripts they do exactly what is necessary; 5.much of the focus is on the cognitive and intellectual at the expense of the emotional and affective.

13 What do you think might be some of the triggers for students feeling negative about their progress?

14 14 What affects students’ successful transition to HE? 1.Mistaken assumptions about what studying in HE requires 2.Life events: the ups and downs that can’t be foreseen 3.Lack of confidence in their own abilities Survey of 6,000 HE students found: 1.Over 50% of had difficulty in coping with the demands of HE, 2.33% found academic work harder than they had expected it to be, 3.38% found difficulty in balancing academic and other commitments. ( Longden & Yorke,2006)

15 Students’ conceptions of learning: Conceptions of learning take time to develop (Saljo,1979; Marton, Dall’Alba & Beatty,1993) found 6 conceptions. What do you mean by learning? 1.Learning as increase of knowledge 2.Learning as memorising 3.Learning facts for application 4.Learning as abstracting meaning 5.Learning as an interpretive process to understand ‘reality’ 6.Learning as changing as a person

16 Students’ conceptions of knowledge Conceptions of knowledge change very slowly (King & Kitchener 1994) Reflective judgment model derived from answers to ill-structured problems i.e. How would you end world poverty? 3 stages: Pre-reflective-knowledge is gained through authority figures rather than testing the evidence Quasi-reflective-knowledge claims contain elements of uncertainty but this is only because evidence is missing Reflective -knowledge claims are made from the most reasonable evidence and can be subject to change

17 How do we nurture our students as learners: what the research suggests Create learning communities/provide for relationships active learning; students to be researchers ( a context of enquiry makes learning significant to the learner); reduce and tailor assessment; extend the student experience; encourage intrinsic motivation; build confidence; give a sense of ownership and control; provide detailed (and constructive feedback) encourage collaboration between students.

18 What do you do to nurture your students as learners and adapt to learning at degree level?

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