The impact of Learning Development tutorials on student attainment


  • Alison Loddick University of Northampton
  • Kate Coulson University of Northampton



University Learning Development teams provide expert advice to learners regarding the development and enhancement of academic skills such as essay writing, dissertations, critical analysis, mathematics, and statistics. The majority of universities have set up Learning Development or similar academic support services in recent years. However, little research has been conducted to understand the effect of such help on student attainment. At the University of Northampton, this service is perceived as pivotal in supporting students through their studies. The impact on student grades and future attainment was examined using three and a half years of student assessment data (over 16,000 students and 175,000 assessments) which was connected to information gathered from the Learning Development one-to-one tutorials database. Although causality cannot be claimed, there was an average rise of one to two sub grades for learners who attended at least one Learning Development tutorial compared to those who did not use this assistance. Furthermore, historical tutorials positively affected grades of students with an additional two percent increase in their future assignments. Students from the faculties of Business and Law and Education and Humanities saw the largest increase in attainment compared to students within their faculties who did not have tutorials. Furthermore, students from a black ethnic background and aged 25 years or below also gained the most in terms of attainment compared to other ethnic groups and more mature students.

Author Biographies

Alison Loddick, University of Northampton

Alison Loddick is a Chartered Statistician with over 25 years of conducting quantitative research throughout industry and the public sector.  The last eight years have been in education statistics and teaching mathematics and statistics in schools and university. Her current research in her role as a Learning Development Tutor in Mathematics and Statistics has been investigating the impact on students of a Learning Development unit supporting academics skills. 

Kate Coulson, University of Northampton

Kate Coulson is a qualified librarian, teacher and Senior Fellow of the HEA. She is Head of Learning Development at the University of Northampton where she leads a team of academic tutors who support and advise all students with their academic and study skills. Previously her academic research concentrated on the self-reported confidence of students’ academic skills but more recently she has focussed on the engagement, attainment and progression of students utilising her team. 




How to Cite

Loddick, A. and Coulson, K. (2020) “The impact of Learning Development tutorials on student attainment”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (17). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi17.558.