Students often arrive unprepared for classes survey finds

Extracurricular reading is a key part of university study but how many students actually do it?

February 16 2017
Times Higher Education app cover (16 February 2017) international

Half of university staff think that students turn up for class without having done the required reading, according to data collected by Times Higher Education.

In THE’s Teaching Survey for 2017, 1150 higher education staff (90 per cent of whom were academics) were surveyed on their teaching habits and their views on student engagement.

Around half of the respondents (52 per cent) believed that students were arriving at lectures without having done as much of the background reading as required. Only 24 per cent believed that their students arrived well prepared.

One academic said that "students study to pass exams, no longer to study a discipline".  

Another said that the "lack of attention span and focus from students [is] an ongoing concern and, with teachers placed under pressure often for the shortcomings of [their] students".

Additionally almost half of the academics (48 per cent) and 43 per cent of administrators and professional staff did not think that students are prepared for university study by their previous schooling.

Laura Warner, a recent graduate from University College London, thinks that there is a big transition between school and university, in terms of workload and how workload is organised. "I think when you're spending so little time in lectures/seminars, having discussions with peers and with lecturers, it is easy to become disengaged, or not even engage at all. I also felt that there was often not an obvious connection between required readings and the lecture material, and it all felt a bit abstract," she said. 

The results also revealed that students expected higher marks than were often given. Some 47.5 per cent of academics and 57.6 per cent of professional and support staff reported that students would complain if given marks lower than anticipated.

However, on a more positive note, 85 per cent said that students valued their teaching and only 5 per cent said that they did not.

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