Student Voices is our on-going research project that looks into the higher education experience of students across the UK, Europe and South Africa. Its focus is on understanding how students regard their education, their learning perceptions, challenges and methods.
To date, our research has already revealed a number of insights into the student experience.
• In the UK, 63% of students chose a degree for graduate prospects, 20% higher than in mainland Europe
• 38% of first year students find independent learning a challenge, whilst by their third year the most commonly cited learning challenge for students is interpreting data
• 79% of students think that digital resources are an essential part of their course
• Students believe that the most important features of any digital learning resource are test yourself and practice questions
• 20% of students want a wider digital offering in their course or recommendations
• 90% of students believe that interpersonal skills are the most important employability skills they should be learning at university
• Students want an efficient way of learning and more one-to-one support
Independent learning is a crucial part of higher education. When coming from a traditional school background, students may not be well versed in this type of learning. Our research has highlighted that this is particularly an issue for first year students. This is further evidenced by a wide range of research consolidated by the Higher Education Academy, all of which suggests that first year students need help in becoming autonomous learners. Successfully communicating to students that the contact and resources are available to assist them, will aid in smoothing that transition from a more guided form of learning to higher education.
Digital Learning Resources
Our research has highlighted a need for students to have greater flexibility in their way of learning. The need for digital solutions is not just associated with requirements for different learning types. There are limitations for educators in both time and money. A variety of digital solutions can supply the extra assistance needed to further students’ learning. Working with student development in mind, we have been able to shape our MindTap solution into an interactive learning platform. By listening to their requirements we have designed a number of interactive elements, our ‘Profiles in Psychopathology’ tool allows students to investigate and analyse Psychological profiles. This is then taken a step further with our ‘Continuum Video Project’ in which students simulate being a real psychologist by studying a patient. Our tools have a wide variety and each subject area is bespoke. Our Programming MindTap solution contains a functionality for students to write and run their own code, preparing them for practical applications.
Mobile Apps are a key part of the landscape in today’s learning. Not just for flexibility and variation in learning but also for access to learning. In certain geographical areas, our educators and their students may have access to a mobile phone but not a computer for learning purposes. Being mindful of this difference in circumstances allowed us to create a Mobile App that is an important learning resource and can be accessed by as many students as possible.
Employability skills are of great concern to students and employers alike. Moving forward into a chosen career will undoubtedly be daunting. Our findings have shown that students want to feel confident that the skills they have learnt during their studies will be relevant to their selected vocation. This is supported by a 2018 report by the UK’s National Audit Office, which indicated that some of the skills graduates lack are the softer transferable skills required for work. This is where digital solutions can play a vital role. Cengage has developed learning platforms to include several different practical tools. This way students can practice their skills in a safe environment, with tangible examples, building conviction in their abilities.
Become a Student Voices Partner
By listening to students, across multiple institutions, we can gain a greater insight into how to better assist them with their learning needs. We are keen to expand our growing research programme and gain valuable insights into how your students think, study and learn. To join us please visit cengage.co.uk/student_voices
Written by Alyson Hyslop
Thank you to Jason Bennett for contributions to this piece.