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Understanding the learning and teaching expectations of taught postgraduate students across science, engineering and computing subjects at Kingston University (KU). Michelle Morgan and Lucy Jones Higher Education Academy STEM Conference 12 and 13 April 2012 Imperial College. Methodology.

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Understanding the learning and teaching expectations of taught postgraduate students across science, engineering and computing subjects at Kingston University (KU)

Michelle Morgan and Lucy Jones

Higher Education Academy STEM Conference

12 and 13 April 2012

Imperial College

methodology
Methodology
  • Cohort sample size
      • 2010/11 66% Faculty of Engineering
      • 2011/12 38% Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing
  • Open and closed questions
  • SPSS and frequency and parametric tests

The aims of the research:

  • explore the previous learning and teaching experiences of the Faculty’s new PGT students and their expectations of studying at PGT level.

The objectives of the research:

  • to use the results to develop academic, welfare and support activities within the Faculty;
  • to identify any academic weakness PGT students felt they had;
  • to raise awareness amongst staff of new PGT students concerns;
  • to improve the overall PGT student experience.
pg expansion
PG Expansion

All disciplines

Science Engineering, Maths and Technology

Sources: Higher Education Statistics Agency (2011) Students in 2004/5 and 2009/10 by mode and level. Online. Available: http://www.hesa.ac.uk (Accessed 6 January 2011)

Kingston University (2012) 2010-11 HESA Student Return Check Documentation. Online. Available: http://staff.kingston.ac.uk/C18/Reports/default.aspx?Mode=View (Accessed 30 January 2012)

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“as the bachelor’s degree becomes ubiquitous, its relative advantage in the labour market is diminishing”

Wolf 2002 cited by Wakeling 2005, p. 506)

Wakeling, P. (2005) La noblesse d’etat anglasie? Social class and progression to postgraduate study,

British Journal of Sociology of Education. 26 (4), 505-22.

starting university where have you come from
Starting University- Where have you come from?

Implications

  • Different interventions required depending on previous experiences and backgrounds;
  • Students coming from university may have different expectations.
reasons for undertaking a postgraduate qualification
Reasons for undertaking a postgraduate qualification

Implications

  • Revaluate the learning outcomes of their courses and ensure that students expectations are managed;
  • Include real work based opportunities to keep students engaged if possible.
reason for choosing a university
Reason for choosing a university

Implications

  • Rise in PGT costs due to UG increase;
  • Course and value for money likely to increase as critical factors.

In 2010/11, primary reason 2 =university’s teaching reputationfollowed by thecost of fees. In 2011/12 the primary second and third reason cited = cost of fees.

expectations of study at university
Expectations of study at University

Implications

  • Institutions need to prepare themselves for a rise in PGT expectations;
  • With a substantial number coming of PGTs coming from employment, awareness of work and life experiences shaping expectations will need to be considered;
  • Essential that the PGT student experience is improved across academic, welfare and support services.

The majority of students strongly agreed or agreed that they expected a higher standard of service than that at undergraduate level.

2010/11 = 21.5% and 2011/12 = 24.3% of respondents were prepared to receive a level service similar to that received at UG level.

Of the 2011/12 cohort EU = 50%

Outside of the EU = 45.6%.

UK = 32.2%

fee levels
Fee levels
  • Student demographics
  • Academic capability of the PGT student
  • Cost perception
  • Attitudes to debt

Importance of fees in the decision making process

Very important or important

2010/11 = 34.6%

2011/12 = 51%

37.3% from university

61% from work

funding of the course
Funding of the course
  • Increase in PG fees
  • Increase in UG debt
  • Consideration of a loan system

Less first generation student parents helping with fees

EU and Non-EU students receiving parental support than UK

anxiety about starting pgt studies
Anxiety about starting PGT studies

Implications

  • Manage the expectations and support the transition of new PGT students into their studies;
  • Do not directly transfer UG initiatives to PGT as they will have different support needs.

2010/11 = 43% were anxious or very anxious

33.3% were coming from University

53.3% from work.

2011/12 = 55.3%

60.3% were coming from university.

34.8% of those who took a year out stated that they were very anxious or anxious.

what would reduce anxieties
What would reduce anxieties?

Implications

  • Key stakeholders across all services need to ensure that they are working together to deliver a quality experience across academic and welfare support;
  • PGT students, who are older and more likely to have established social networks outside of university, may not need extensive social support provided at Faculty or University level.

Learning and teaching

Communication

Information

Support

PGT respondents in both survey cohorts did not cite making friends, getting peer support or being given the opportunity to socialise as important aspects in reducing their anxiety levels.

what you understand by the term feedback
What you understand by the term feedback?

Implications

  • Ensure that students are fully aware of what is meant by feedback and are introduced to the various methods and approaches at the start of their course;
  • If the PGT NSS survey is implemented, feedback and assessment will be at the heart of it.

Respondents regardless of domiciled status understood what the term feedback meant. A small handful provided confusing answers but of these there was no correlation between the responses given and domiciled status

feedback preference
Feedback preference

Implications

  • Increase in numbers mean assessment and feedback processes may need reviewing;
  • Teaching teams may need to look at effective methods for their cohorts.

A much higher percentage of respondents coming from work preferred face to face feedback compared to those coming straight from university.

skill base
Skill base

Implications

  • important for an institution to identify the weakness in their student body key skill’s base and bridge the gap by providing extra support when and where it is needed;
  • Institutions need to be aware of student study deficiencies.

A small percentage stated that they felt they had very strong skills in the skills listed.

The majority stated that they felt that they had strong skills.

No significant difference in perception between those coming straight from study and those from work in terms level of skill base.

2010/11 = 26.6% thought they had weak literacy skills

52.4% were straight from University

2011/12 = 21.1% thought they had weak numeracy skills

30% were coming from University.

pgt value and added value
PGT value and added value

Implications

  • raise the profile of PGT courses with employers and ensure that the correct skills are built into courses;
  • Skills could be explicitly defined in any documents or transcripts employers receive from the student (e.g. transcripts containing a skills matrix).

Respondents who felt that employers do value a PG qualification more than an UG one

2010/11 = 83%

2011/12 = 81.7%

The majority of all the respondents believed that undertaking a PG qualification would enhance their skills in the following areas:

Self management Team working Business awareness IT

Problem solving Communication Numeracy Leadership

2010/11 and 2011/12 = 95%.

english as a first language
English as a first language

Implication

  • Large percentage of PGTs for whom English is not their first language;
  • Resources for language support.

Respondents who considered English to be their first language:

2010/11 - 40.3%

37.7% were UK domiciled

2011/12 - 40.8%

36.8% were UK domiciled

2010/11 - 18 languages other than English were listed by the respondents as their first language. At UG level in the same year, the number was 48

2011/12 - 35 languages other than English were listed by the respondents as their first language.

.

summary
Summary

Further areas for investigation

  • Debt aversion attitudes as a barrier to PGT study;
  • The effect of domiciled status on attitudes to learning, fees and funding;
  • The impact of PGT fees on the UK market and the global economic downturn on EU and non-EU applicants.

We must not:

  • treat PGT students as a homogenous group or like undergraduate students;
  • must not use initiatives specifically designed for UG students as interventions and support for PGTs
thank you for listening

Thank you for listening

Any questions?

Michelle Morgan and Lucy Jones

[email protected]@kingston.ac.uk

Full report at: http://www.improvingthestudentexperience.com/library/PG_documents/PG_Student_Expectation_Survey_Report_2011.2_FINAL_combined.pdf

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