Enhancing learning opportunities in higher education: best practices that reflect on the themes of the national student survey, UK

Gomis, Kasun orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6354-0440, Saini, Mandeep, Pathirage, Chaminda and Arif, Mohammed (2021) Enhancing learning opportunities in higher education: best practices that reflect on the themes of the national student survey, UK. Quality Assurance in Education . ISSN 0968-4883

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/qae-01-2021-0004


This study aims to assess “learning opportunities” provided to undergraduate students, from level three to six, in higher education (HE). A knowledge gap was identified within the current practice relating to learning opportunities for built environment (BE) students in HE. The study focussed on the themes under section two of the national student survey (NSS): how students explore ideas or concepts in-depth, bring information and ideas together from different topics and apply the learned content in a real-life context. The study aimed to provide recommendations for enhancing “learning opportunities” to the BE students within HE.

Data collection focussed on section two of NSS “learning opportunities” and documentary analysis, and a qualitative survey were adopted for this study. A documental analysis of 334 mid-module reviews was carried out. The qualitative data was collected from level three to level six students and academics from architecture, construction management, civil engineering and quantity surveying disciplines representing BE context. A sample of 40 students and 15 academics, including a Head of school, a Principal lecturer, Subject leads and lecturers, participated in interviews as part of a qualitative survey. In total, 12 drivers were developed using the data obtained through literature, documental analysis and interviews. These drivers were analysed using manual content analysis to identify their influence on the specified themes under NSS section two and circulated amongst academics to be ranked by identifying its influence to promote learning opportunities to BE students in HE.

This study highlighted 12 drivers which promote learning opportunities in HE within BE curriculum. Findings established that topics should be explained with more real-life or industry-orientated concepts such as simplification integrated into module delivery. Contrary to the literature, the use of physical materials (i.e. handouts and whiteboard) in addition to a virtual learning environment for detailed explanations were considered effective in exploring concepts. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, context-based learning needs to be promoted by integrating videos of practical implementation for better understanding. The study recognised that lab, fieldwork and tutorials were essential to apply what students have learned in BE curricula to a real-life context.

This study identified current learning approaches and provided recommendations to improve the BE students learning experience in HE. They identified 12 drivers that would significantly help academics and academic institutions to understand how learning opportunities should be facilitated in the BE curriculum to enhance student performances in HE.

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