Returning to Learning: What are the academic development needs of mature and part-time students? What works to support and retain these students?

Louise Frith, Allia Wilson


àThis paper considers issues around the support and retention of mature and part-time (MaP) students. It analyses the specific academic development needs of MaP students based on Wengerââ¬â¢s model of learning (1998) which puts the academic learning needs of students into three broad categories; the first is academic confidence and learner identity, the second is the need for MaP students to integrate and build a sense of community and the third is for these students to overcome anxiety through practice and practical considerations. Then an Appreciative Inquiry (Cooperrider, Whitney and Stavros, 2008) approach is used to examine the extent to which the University of Kentââ¬â¢s Student Learning Advisory Service (SLAS) supports MaP students through a programme of self-assessment of needs, one to one advice and targeted study skills sessions. The conclusion points to the positive responses received fromà MaP students about the programme but also acknowledges that more could be done; perhaps through reflection on studentsââ¬â¢ prior knowledge, a stronger emphasis on building social learning networks and the increased use of technology.àKey words: mature and part-time students, identity, community, practice


mature and part-time students, identity, community, practice

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ISSN: 1759-667X