Never mind the contact width, feel the quality (2 of 3)

August 18, 2011

Paul Ramsden ("When I grow up, I want to be spoon-fed") raises a number of questions, some of which are addressed by Ann Mroz ("Hours and hours of reckoning", Leader, 11 August). However, two things should be at the forefront of this debate: first, it is what students need rather than what they want that is crucial; and second, learning as defined by outcomes (output rather than input) is the way forward.

In the US, the debate about the "credit hour" (input) is under way, as is the role of outcomes. Globally this is the case, too. Most favour outcomes with, of course, students at the heart of the learning experience, but it is what they need that should lead, not just what they want.

Tim Birtwistle, Professor emeritus, law and policy of higher education, Leeds Metropolitan University

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