Graduates for the 21st Century: classroom-based response to student needs

Margaret Harris

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Over the last two decades higher education institutions (HEIs) have faced increasing challenges in developing and adapting their provision to support mass higher education in such a way that it will provide for 21st century learners. As student numbers increase and the diversity of learners grows these challenges continue and in response to this changing environment the higher education sector has become increasingly aware of the need for a change in the ways in which they engage with students. More diverse and, in many instances, more complex students with a varied range of needs require a learner-centred approach to learning, not only in terms of teaching, but in terms of the variety of support and administrative systems which underpin delivery. Consequently, Responding to Student Needs was identified as an early priority for the Enhancement Themes work in Scotland and in autumn 2003, a steering committee was established in order to respond to this. Between November 2003 and February 2004, a project interview team, including administrative staff and educational developers, held a series of focus groups involving staff and students to investigate this area.
After analysis of the information from these groups, carried out by the Centre for Higher Education Research and Information (CHERI), and as the topic of Responding to Student Needs encompassed a wide range of issues, the steering committee opted to focus upon two specific areas for investigation:
student needs in the first year of study including:
- induction
- personal tutor systems
- approaches to integrating student support
- the first-year learning experience student evaluation of, and feedback on, their learning experience.
The key outcomes from the projects were:
the need to disseminate existing good practice the need to reflect upon, and consider ways of, enhancing practice the lessons to be learned from international experiences and approaches to student induction, academic and pastoral support, and the organisation and support of the first-year learning experience the arguments for more strategic, coherent and coordinated ways of responding to student needs2
the need to consider ways of addressing both the quality assurance and enhancement purposes of student evaluation of, and feedback on, their learning experience the importance of preparing students for entry to higher education, engaging them quickly and effectively into the learning community of the institution, smoothing the transition and process of acculturation, and providing timely and relevant academic, pastoral and professional support (QAA, 2005a).
Most HEIs have responded in some way to these outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationQAA Scotland Enhancement themes Website
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherQAA Scotland Enhancement Themes
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • classroom- based responses
  • student needs


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