A comparison of staff perceptions and student experiences of issues associated with university
AbstractA significant body of research (Yorke, 1999a; 1999b; 2000a; 2000b) has examined difficulties experienced by students who withdraw from university. However, less work has been undertaken around students who experience difficulties but choose to remain in their studies. Similarly, limited work has addressed how tutors and university support staff perceive difficulties associated with the student experience and whether these are in line with student accounts. The lack of research around university staff perceptions is surprising given that tutors must have a good knowledge of the student experience in order to be able to understand and support learning. The purpose of this study was twofold. Firstly, to examine what difficulties students reported experiencing during university and secondly, to ascertain if university staff knowledge of student difficulties were in line with student accounts. Using semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire, staff and student perceptions of university difficulties were examined. Results showed that all students experienced difficulties whilst studying. It was generally found that university staff had a good knowledge of student difficulties. However, two types of difficulty were identified (related to university systems and experience of teaching) of which staff were less aware. Possible explanations for findings are offered along with recommendations as to how findings might influence a learning developer.
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