Distance learning and the empowerment of students: applied statistical analysis for students of the Built Environment.
AbstractBuilt Environment students (including construction management, quantity surveying and so forth) generally exhibit limited understanding of mathematics and statistics, both from a theoretical and practical perspective (cf. Johnson, 1998; Llewellyn, 1999; Mtenga and Spainhour, 2000). This statement is supported by the fact that over half of the first year students (2001/2 intake) who completed an Individual Learner Profile (ILP) admitted to exhibiting poor mathematical skill. In addition, fewer than one in forty students have gained a mathematical qualification higher than a GCSE. Hence, undergraduate students are faced with a huge task when initially conceptualising the analytical component of a dissertation. Consequently, students elect to avoid robust and rigorous analysis in preference for elementary and somewhat naïve statistical methods to interpret any gathered data. This problem is further exacerbated by the reference to many ‘introductory’ statistical texts that are written for persons who have an ‘above average’ mathematical knowledge. Due to their background, Built Environment students struggle in transferring their data into a format that can be analysed and interpreted by statistical software. To do so requires time and commitment of staff combined with student initiative and drive. The problem here is that over 50% of students in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment (SEBE) attend University on a part time basis. Hence, physical restrictions limit these students’ ability to access the library and search for an appropriate textbook. Therefore, an easily accessible (internet) reference tool would provide an ideal opportunity with which to overcome this potential stumbling block. The aim of the proposed project was to develop an internet-based tool to assist undergraduate students learn ‘applied’ statistical analysis of data (relevant to typical construction problems) not just statistics per se. Such a tool would facilitate students, who actively seek to enhance their general mathematical and statistical knowledge as well as gain an insight into using commercially available statistical software simulation packages.
CitationCELT Learning and Teaching Projects 2001/02
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeChapter in book
DescriptionReport of a CELT project on supporting students through innovation and research.
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What do we mean by student support? Staff and students’ perspectives of the provision and effectiveness of support for studentsDhillon, Jaswinder; McGowan, Mhairi; Wang, Hong (University of Wolverhampton, 2006)The aim of this small-scale study is to explore the effectiveness of the support available to students registered for programmes of study in the School of Education. This includes the provision of university-wide student support and guidance services as well as the more localised study skills and academic and personal support provided by personal tutors. The perceptions of both staff and students were sampled through questionnaires and interviews. This paper presents a review of literature on the provision of student support for the increasingly diverse body of students in higher education and some preliminary findings from our survey of current students. The literature and findings from our investigation indicate discrepancies between the officially declared provision of student support services and the accessibility and use of these services in practice. There is ambiguity around the role of the personal tutor and inconsistency of practice in the level of support provided by ‘personal tutors’ which suggest that a review of the personal tutor role is needed. Student responses to our questionnaire also indicate that drop-in study skills provision in useful and being used but that other student support services, such as careers and counselling services are rarely used by students from the School of Education. This is mainly due to accessibility of these services and the lack of provision on the Walsall campus. The other major theme in the data is the process of induction to the University which students regard as being too intensive an ‘event’ and inappropriate for getting to know about support services.
An overview of research on student support: helping students to achieve or achieving institutional targets? Nurture or De-Nature?Smith, Rob (Taylor & Francis, 2007)In the quasi-marketised environment of the new, mass higher education (HE), centralised policy continues to dictate conditions, and traditionally stable sources of income are being made increasingly unreliable. An increasing emphasis on student support within HE institutions (HEIs) has been made necessary by targets for student numbers and the funding that rests on these numbers. These tensions have been added to for 'post-1992' universities, by the Widening Participation initiative that brings with it particular issues around recruitment and retention. Rather than focusing on the models and systems of support that are being developed in different HE settings and their effectiveness, the aim of this paper is to theorise the imperatives behind these, to look again at the context that informs their inception and how the various support structures position and identify students. Through this, the tensions that exist between financial incentives, 'bums on seats', Widening Participation and academic achievement rates will be explored.
Student satisfaction and perceptions of quality: testing the linkages for PhD studentsCheng, Ming; Taylor, Hohn; Williams, James; Tong, Kang (Taylor & Francis, 2016-03-24)Student satisfaction and the quality of education are of compelling interest to students, academic staff, policymakers and higher education researchers internationally. There is a widespread belief in their “cause and effect” relationship. This paper tests these beliefs and explores how the level of student satisfaction is linked with the perceived quality of PhD education. Using expectancy-value theory as a framework and interview data from PhD students and their supervisors, this paper suggests that satisfaction is not necessarily perceived as an indicator of quality education. Levels of student satisfaction can be influenced by students’ expectations prior to their study and their pre-conceived beliefs regarding the value of a PhD education. Concern is raised that an over-emphasis on student satisfaction may pose a threat to the quality of PhD programmes, making it increasingly difficult for universities to retain their integrity and reducing the intellectual challenges that PhD students need to experience.