Bring the bags to the room

December 8, 2011

The University of Cumbria's Peter Ovens confirms my own experiences ("To spoon-feed is not to nurture", 24 November). I recently helped out on the computing services help-desk of a 1994 Group institution. I was dumbfounded to find that although the instructions for how to connect to the internet were printed out, and even pointed at with a big arrow, most students apparently couldn't follow them. My assumption was that they were used to having such things done for them.

But it gets worse: when they were directed to the handouts, single A5 sheets of text, the majority were all at sea ("What, no walk-through? No pictures?"). So, we gave them pictures; most were still puzzled. One said: "You should do it for me - I'm paying for this shit!" She got her way - it was easier and less stressful to do it for them.

As university should be about independent learning, I did suggest that we might persevere for a while and encourage students to work things out for themselves a little more. The result was raised eyebrows and a "We can't do that" attitude.

It seemed to me that "excellent student experience" equated to the provision of some sort of bizarre concierge service.

Name and address withheld

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