‘Learning so much…’: exploring the student perspective on the impact of attending optional LD workshops





co-curricular workshops, LD feedback, self-selecting provision, central LD provision


Lack of confidence, in particular with regards to writing, study and information literacy skills (Bailey et al., 2007) has been identified as a key barrier to students’ transition, and subsequent attainment, in higher education. This is particularly relevant for students with ‘marginal learner identities’ (McIntosh and Barden, 2019, p.4), such as those with disabilities, or from minority ethnic and/or socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. Learning Development (LD) professionals are often engaged in supporting learners to negotiate such barriers, with one of the most common interventions being self-selecting, small to medium-size group workshops.

This presentation explored the student perspective on the impact of attending a programme of co-curricular workshops at a UK university with a significant intake of students whose learner identities may be categorised as ‘marginal’. Whilst the core topics of the programme fall within the more established domains of LD (Gibbs, 2009), several workshops also cover related disciplinary areas (Samuels, 2013), such as information literacy and Maths and Statistics. The presentation relied on quantitative and qualitative feedback data collected via an online survey, emailed to all participants who registered for a workshop. Key impacts identified include enhanced understanding of skill or topic, improved confidence, and benefiting from a supportive environment. Main barriers to learning refer to challenges in accessing the sessions, timing in relation to student journey and approaches to delivery.

Throughout the presentation, participants were invited to compare and contrast these findings to potential insights gathered in their own contexts. They were also encouraged to reflect on how these data can be used to more clearly articulate the role of LD within institutional teaching and learning strategies.

Author Biography

Arina Cirstea, De Montfort University

Arina Cirstea is a Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Learning and Study Support at De Montfort University, engaging with students at all levels, in curricular as well as co-curricular contexts. Central aspects of her role involve working in collaboration with academic staff from the Faculty of Business and Law to design and implement the embedded learning development provision as well as curating the Library’s self-selecting programme of workshops. Arina’s research interests focus on student engagement, and strategies to mitigate the impact of textual and spatial power structures on individual development.


Bailey, P. et al., (2007) ‘Assessing the impact of a study skills programme on the academic development of nursing diploma students at Northumbria University, UK’. Health Information and Libraries Journal 24 (1), 77-85. Available at https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-1842.2007.00741.x (Accessed: 21 December 2022)

Gibbs, G. (2009) ‘Developing students as learners-varied phenomena, varied contexts and a developmental trajectory for the whole endeavour’. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education 1. Available at https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.v0i1.30 (Accessed: 10 June 2021)

McIntosh, E. and Barden, M.E. (2019) ‘The LEAP (Learning Excellence Achievement Pathway) framework: A model for student learning development in higher education’, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education 14. Available at: https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.v0i14.466 (Accessed: 18 May 2021).

Samuels, P. (2013) ‘Promoting Learning Development as an academic discipline’ Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education 5. Available at: https://doi.org/10.47408/jldhe.v0i5.146 (Accessed 21 December 2022)




How to Cite

Cirstea, A. (2023) “‘Learning so much…’: exploring the student perspective on the impact of attending optional LD workshops”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (29). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi29.1084.

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