ALDinHE Research Grants 15-16

Student Perceptions of Academic Skills Development

Katie Shaw and Kinga Zaczek, Royal Holloway, University of London

The project investigated undergraduate students’ perception of academic skills development through reflection on their most and least successful assessment experience, and on their discipline in general. Students’ opinions were explored through semi-structured interviews with twenty undergraduate students from a range of academic departments and years of study at Royal Holloway, University of London. Most students reported ‘figuring out’ within a few months what was expected in terms of the format and style of assignments, but noted the difficulties they often experienced when a new genre of assignment was introduced. Time management was most frequently cited as a significant on-going difficulty, which often contributed to poor performance in assessments. Most students seemed to develop a sense of ownership and self-confidence in their work as their degree progressed. However, some expressed confusion about the extent to which they were ‘allowed’ to express their own ideas and others said they tailored their assignments to what they believed the marker wanted to hear. Most students seemed to view the development of academic skills as a relatively passive process and viewed extra-curricular sessions as remedial, rather than developmental. The findings of this project should help to inform learning developers and academic lecturers considering how academic skills can most effectively be developed among undergraduate students.

Keywords: academic skills; learning development; academic development; undergraduate

For more information about the project, please contact Katie Shaw Katie.Shaw@rhul.ac.uk

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