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  5. Perceptions, Expectations and Experience of Group Tuition: towards a shared understanding amongst stakeholders (part II: the student perspective)

Perceptions, Expectations and Experience of Group Tuition: towards a shared understanding amongst stakeholders (part II: the student perspective)

Project leader(s): 
Anne Campbell, Mark Jones and Anne-Marie Gallen
Academic Services and STEM

In our January 2015 eSTEeM proposal, we asked the question ‘What is tuition: do our students expect from tuition the same thing that we offer?’ At that time, just before the implementation of the group tuition policy, we started to investigate the possibility that what we offer and what students expect from group tuition might not be coincident. The final implementation of the group tuition policy in October 2016 has not produced evidence of a change in student behaviour and this suggests that there remains a divide between what we provide and what students appear to expect.

Although tuition, and in particular tuition of groups, has always been core to The Open University’s support model, it is not clear that stakeholders (students, ALs, central academics, learning & teaching research staff, staff developers) have a common conception of what tuition is for and how it should be conducted.  Identifying a common understanding of what group tuition is trying to achieve remains very timely for the University, and should feed into on-going debate about our teaching model and inform initiatives such as the Students First Transformation and beyond.

Outcomes of this project will also have implications across the sector, to inform and promote discussion between staff developers, lecturers and educational designers, as well as those who write material for students.  As educators, we hope to improve the student learning experience within The Open University and influence the way this topic is approached in other HEIs.

In this second phase of the research we propose to:

  1. Expand our desk-based research, to examine relevant recent tuition policies within STEM, as well as student responses to current group tuition approaches, practices and procedures. We plan to look at student responses within the OU, as well as developing an understanding of scholarship around student perspectives of tuition across the sector, in order to put the OU position in the wider context of the HEI sector.
  2. Examine existing data on student perceptions on group tuition, in particular the student consultations which took place in 2014-2017, including any Students’ first focus groups and information gleaned from the student consultative forums.
  3. Investigate current perceptions of the purpose of group tuition amongst students.  As part of this process, we intend to gather examples of students’ attitudes, attendance and behaviour around group tuition both online and face to face.  A qualitative mixed methods approach will be used.  We will begin by conducting a short survey of students across particular level 1 modules; including S111, T192, T193, SM123 (to be confirmed).  From these surveys, key themes will be drawn out to create questions which will be used in semi-structured interviews with students. We hope to engage the ALs on each of these modules to deliver and encourage support for the surveys.  
  4. Conduct data analysis and synthesis of the research as well as our previous scholarship which identified differences in the perceptions of students and ALs, with subsequent internal and external dissemination.