An investigation of factors influencing the student experience at university
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University students are increasingly considered ‘consumers’, while universities are viewed as ‘service providers’. It is therefore imperative that higher education institutions explore and better understand factors influencing the student experience. This thesis investigates the impact that three elements of the university environment have on the student experience. Firstly, student and staff views of good academic practice were examined. Participants rated scenarios representing four areas of academic practice (aiding and abetting, multiple submission, contract cheating and plagiarism) as good practice, poor practice or misconduct. While scenarios at extreme ends of the academic practice continuum generated near-uniform responses, some scenarios lacked consensus between student and staff. The most contentious areas of academic practice were those involving help from peers. Disparity in opinions highlights the need for greater analysis and education to reach a shared understanding of academic practice across the university. Secondly, well-being levels of first year undergraduates were measured across an academic year to identify periods when students might benefit from additional support. Well-being was poorer at the end, compared to the beginning, of the academic season. In addition, students who completed high school in North America experienced poorer well-being compared to their UK and European peers. Finally the effectiveness of traditional and interactive teaching approaches were recorded following both teaching styles. This held true for experienced and novice teachers. Irrespective of teaching style, female students were less satisfied with sessions and less confident when completing final statistical analyses compared to males. Overall, this work has advanced understanding of how all three keys factors influence the student experience and has highlighted areas where improvements can be made. Importantly, this study demonstrates methodologies for conducting and scientifically rigorous research within an educational setting.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2020-04-05
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Electronic copy restricted until 5th April 2020
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