I have recently been considering the types of issues and problems students face when coming to university. There is some general talk that at present the school and college system doesn’t successfully prepare all students for the expectations at university level. While many courses design their first year to account for a wide variety of abilities and knowledge, considering many cohorts includes both mature and international students, there are still concerns that this is not as effective as it could or should be.
As someone who’s teaching experience is primarily from the student perspective I have been recently gathering data from a more experienced tutor. A colleague of mine, Tony Renshaw, has been kind enough to spend some time reflecting on his teaching experiences for me. He identified that there is a difference between the nature of the problems students face in their first and subsequent years. In the first year a number of students are experiencing independence for the first time. This means having to deal with many issues outside of University life as well, such as: learning and living space; new friends and old friends; responsibilities; a new job; working with teachers and fellow students. From an academic perspective students often find throughout the term at university it difficult to deal with: feedback; critical thinking; reading and writing; time planning; asking questions; and self-expression, verbal as well as written; and assessment processes and procedures.
In some ways a number of these issues are not much different to those we all experience when entering a new job or integrating with a new environment. I think the students they can become particularly prevalent problems because of little previous experience of coping with this process. There is also the added pressure from personal and family expectations regarding this being the first main step in their career. In asking Tony to reflect on his teaching experience is that I’m looking for some key areas to develop into a series of workshops for students that use coaching principles to enable them to raise their awareness, take ownership and develop confidence.
One area that has been highlighted during my discussions with Tony was that of assessment and how students approach this. I have asked Terry to reflect on this to see if there are any specific aspects I can focus on.