Understanding the student experience

Spacey, Rachel and Stuart, Mary (2016) Understanding the student experience. In: Understanding the Contemporary Higher Education Student, 21st September 2016, University of Surrey.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


What is the Student Experience (SE)? This extensively used term seems to elude a precise definition (1994 Group, 2007) yet appears to be understood by Higher Education Institutions and is measured, for example, when final year UK undergraduates rate their satisfaction in the annual National Student Survey. Indeed, it may be impossible to determine since the student body is so diverse (Ainley, 2008; Kandiko and Mawer, 2013; Riggs et al., 2012). Moreover, it has negative connotations in the academic literature, associated with the marketization of Higher Education (Cartney, 2013; Sabri, 2011; Dean and Gibbs, 2015): “It is part of market-speak. If students are ‘consumers’ rather than… well, just students, their ‘experience’ must be the main focus of the ‘business’” (Scott, 2014).

This presentation details research being undertaken at the University of Lincoln aimed at Understanding the Student Experience (USE). USE intends to provide a historical analysis of the SE of the past 50 years and develop a typology of the SE which can be used by HEIs in the UK and internationally. Preliminary research, involving a comprehensive review of the literature and exploratory focus groups with students, will help refine the research questions and methods for the next stage of data collection to be undertaken from September 2016 onwards.

Findings from the exploratory focus groups carried out with students at the University of Lincoln in April 2016 will be shared. The sessions explored students’ daily lives, their understanding of the term ‘the Student Experience’ and what a good SE might comprise. This presentation will explore the findings of USE thus far and consider how best to research and understand the SE.

Keywords:Higher Education, University students, Student experience
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:Professional services > Vice Chancellors Office
ID Code:28738
Deposited On:02 Oct 2017 14:12

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