Uni students lacking staff contact

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Monday, 17 May 2010

Embargoed: For release 17 May 2010
Uni students lacking staff contact

The largest ever survey of current higher education students in Australia and New Zealand has revealed worrying findings about interactions between students and their teachers.

The 2009 Australasian Survey of Student Engagement (AUSSE) involved over 30,000 students from 35 higher education institutions. A public report on the results was released today by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).

AUSSE reports on the time and effort students devote to educationally purposeful activities and on students‟ perceptions of other aspects of their university experience including interactions with university staff.

“Research shows us that the contact students have with staff are among the strongest influences on positive learning outcomes,” said ACER Principal Research Fellow and director of the AUSSE Associate Professor Hamish Coates.

“When students have the opportunity to speak with their teachers about their performance, their grades, or ideas from their classes, particularly outside of the classroom, and engage with their teachers on an individual level, students tend to be more engaged with learning,” he said.

AUSSE 2009 reveals that:

  • A small, but still significant proportion of students (12.5 per cent of first year and 9.8 per cent of third year students) say they „never‟ receive timely feedback on their academic performance from their teachers.
  • Many Australasian students do not ever discuss their grades (32 per cent), ideas from classes (46.7 per cent) or career plans (52.6 per cent) with their teachers.
  •  Being supported by teaching staff plays a dramatic role in keeping students involved, particularly in first year, and in the quality of education.
  • A very large proportion of students (more than 70 per cent) have „never‟ worked with teaching staff outside of coursework requirements.

“Universities need to measure engagement to inform improvement,” Associate Professor Coates said. “AUSSE provides data that universities can use to attract, engage, retain and graduate students.”

“We need to look at how students are learning and the outcomes they are achieving to help universities identify what really counts in terms of quality.”

The AUSSE is a collaboration between ACER and participating universities. Around 45 institutions are participating in 2010. The full report, Doing More for Learning: Enhancing engagement and outcomes, and further information on AUSSE is available from http://ausse.acer.edu.au