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Learning and supporting student success in Higher Education

GreyMatter - Still Learning

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What does success look like?

One of the aims of my daily job, and this blog, is to promote and support student success. But what does success look like for a student? Success will look different for different students, but many students will see it as attaining the degree they chose to study or completing that degree with a certain grade. I think most people would probably recognise that definition of success, yet for some students success might not involve them completing their degree at all. If a student is really not enjoying their course then transferring to a different course, perhaps at another institution, or leaving education altogether and getting a job might well the best and most successful outcome for them. This view of success makes sense when we take an holistic view of a student; as tutors supporting students holistically we should consider outcomes like these.

Universities spend much time and effort agonising over the subject of retention - encouraging students to remain at university until the completion of their studies. Although they are linked, success and retention are not the same thing. As a speaker at the NACADA Global Conference 2015 observed 'success is something students do, retention is something universities do'.  Helping some students to pursue paths other than completing a degree may not be desirable to university management and may put tutors in conflict with them, but if we are serious about helping students succeed then we must help and support them in achieving the best outcome for them, whatever that may be.

UKAT Personal Tutoring Survey


UKAT is currently conducting a National Personal Tutoring survey, which aims to examine and report on the state of personal tutoring within Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom.

If you are a member of staff of a Higher Education institution in the UK then UKAT would be very interested to hear your perceptions and experiences of personal tutoring, so I would strongly encourage you to complete the survey. The survey is open until 12 February 2016 and the results will be presented at the UKAT Spring Conference 2016.

A similar survey will be conducted later in the year to gather student perceptions and experiences of personal tutoring.

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello, and welcome to my blog.

It has been a few years since I was a regular blogger and I figured it was about time I got back into the habit. My previous blog concentrated on my work as a software developer and teacher of software engineering, and was mainly filled with technical articles on various aspects of building software systems. I still do software development and I still teach software engineering, but the focus of my work has changed in recent years and I am now more concerned with supporting university students and how we, as teachers, can help them succeed.

So this blog is going to focus on matters relating to student success and teaching and learning in Higher Education. In particular, it will focus on how we support students through personal supervision - a process known outside of the UK as academic advising. Good academic advising is considered to be key in helping students succeed in their studies, and I am honoured to be a member of UKAT and NACADA, organisation which promote and support the practice of academic advising in the UK and globally.