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  5. Support for Students. Teaching for Tutors. An Investigation into Ideas on Encouraging Students to Engage

Support for Students. Teaching for Tutors. An Investigation into Ideas on Encouraging Students to Engage

Project leader(s): 
Cathryn Peoples

In 19J, the Project Lead carried out an investigation on providing personalised support to two groups of Level 3 Software Engineering students. The literature suggests that students want more attention from their tutors, a general greater level of support, and a sense of belonging [1] [2]. In practice, however, the findings differed from what is reported in the literature: A minority of students were interested in the personalised support in reality, and the students who engaged formed the higher performing cohort. The students who had the most to gain, the disadvantaged students, therefore did not receive personalised support beyond that which is typically provided. There was therefore a gap between performance achieved across the module 

The objective of this proposed investigation is to respond to this gap, by gaining an understanding of the reasons why certain students do not engage with their tutor and/or their study, and to provision mechanisms which might encourage their engagement. This will investigate the “Support for Students” aspect in the project title, in the sense of understanding if non-engagement is a result of student characteristics, ability, and/or personal circumstances. The second part of the investigation will examine the “Teaching for Tutors” angle, in an attempt to understand if the reasons why a particular cohort of students has not engaged is because they believe their tutor to be unapproachable. The target is then to deploy approaches, from the introductory contact from the tutor to the post-exam period, which respond to the needs of this cohort. The project will conclude with an assessment of the suitability of the proposed approaches in terms of the frequency, type and quality of student engagement.

The intention is that the project will be applicable to other modules. If it is identified that a more personalised approach to communicating with students becomes effective when initial communication attempts are not responded to, the introductory approaches and subsequent support approaches can be applied.

Cathryn Peoples project poster

[1] P. Humphreys, “The Top Five Things That Really Matter to Students about their University,” JISC, Mar. 2018.

[2] A. Mountford-Zimdars, D. Sabri, J. Moore, J. Sanders, S. Jones, and L. Higham, “Causes of Differences in Student Outcomes,” HEFCE, Jul. 2015.