Using a developmental approach to enhance students' learning: A model of learning support for both traditional and non-traditional learners.
A traditional deficit approach to supporting learning, that is reactive, remedial and specialist, is costly, and limited in its impact. (Cottrell, 2001; Wolfendale, 1996; Peelo and Wareham, 2002;Tinto, 1997). The result of depending on such an approach is that many students who wouldbenefit from support for their learning, but who don't actually fail, may not find help until late in their studies or, never find it at all. Typically, if these students survive on their course, they do so by resorting to safe surface approaches to learning and consequently never reach their highest potential. A developmental model of learning support however: (i)acknowledges that it is not helpful to categorise students as 'vulnerable' or 'at risk' or 'failing' but that most students (maybe all students) need support for their learning at some point during their studies, (ii) encourages students to be pro-active, to make decisions about their own study strategies prior to embarking on assignment work rather than simply making reactive responses to grades and assignment feedback, (iii) recognises that many students are unsure about the appropriateness of helpseeking, and (iv) involves collaboration between faculty staff (both academic and support) and central teams to provide contextualised support. In view of the rich diversity of students currently in higher education, it is important to ensure that the potential of all students is acknowledged and developed. This presentation will outline a learning development approach to supporting learning, which operates successfully across different subject areas and levels and modes of study. Key elements of this model are (i) a self-assessment exercise undertaken at induction by over 15,000 students over the last 7 years, (ii) diverse gateways to support including embedded bespoke support for study (contextualised course-based provision) and centrally provided generic study skills, (iii) practical learning materials that are accessible to all students and are used at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Each of the key elements has an intrinsic value but there is added value in overtly acknowledging their inter-relationships and positioning them in the curriculum in a timely and relevant manner.
Citation : Using a developmental approach to enhance students' learning: A model of learning support for both traditional and non-traditional learners. 4th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference, 'The Challenge of Diversity: Teaching, Support and Student Learning', National University of Ireland, Galway, 8th - 9th June 2006