Siobhán - Library

Telling it straight:
incorporating the
student voice into your
learning support strategy
Siobhán Dunne
Dublin City University
The National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Seminar Series 2014
“The type and process of teaching
and learning in second level was
seen as a barrier to being ready to
successfully access third level
learning. The strong emphasis on
note learning, the absence of
training in higher order thinking
skills, the focus on the leaving cert as
a memory test, which had students
see the leaving cert from a short
term perspective, did not furnish
students with the skills to progress
to college”
Student submission (2009) to National
Strategy for Higher Eduction to 2030 (2011)
Source: Everett Kennedy Brown/EPA
Theoretical perspectives – Information Literacy
“The adoption of appropriate information behaviour to
obtain, through whatever channel or medium, information
well fitted to information needs, together with critical
awareness of the importance of wise and ethical use of
information in society” (Johnston and Webber 2004)
How do students develop information literacy?
Is it a “naturally occurring process”?
Is it just an aspiration ?
Information Literacy – A Graduate Attribute
Students will be encouraged to
develop a high level of information
literacy that encompasses a
sophisticated, considered and
critical approach to sourcing,
organising, evaluating and using
The Module
Information and Study Skills - core module
on BA in Contemporary Culture and
Interdisciplinary degree programme
delivered by DCU’s Faculty of Humanities
and Social Sciences
Module Aims - Students will know:
How their experiences of learning (past and present) are
How to use information with confidence
The value of transferable skills and their importance in the
world of work
How to reflect on their learning experience and draw
conclusions from such reflection
Guidelines for Journal entries
1 Goals: what you intend to cover/do in the week
2 Activities: what you actually accomplish, that is, manage to do.
3 Readings: any information sources referred to during the week
Problems: outline honestly any difficulties encountered with
research, that is finding and accessing information, your learning
with regard to a particular incident, overall feelings or impressions
about your learning and differences with previous learning
Guidelines for Journal entries (continued)
5. Reflection: reflect on the experience, such as a particular incident.
How did you cope? What did you learn/realise?
6. Reflection on reflection: how is this journal helping you to discover
new things about yourself? How is it developing your learning?
You may not always use this but it should be there sometimes.
Research proposal submitted to
University Ethics Committee
Qualitative framework
Journals used retrospectively
35 participants
Journals coded (grounded theory)
manually as hand-written in diary format
15 categories
Journal Finding:
Coping with a new environment
The university because it is different from school:
“I’m also adjusting to the new style of teaching that university life brings.
It’s very different from the teaching style of secondary school”.
Journal Finding:
A different type of working week
“Monday never really happens study wise as I have lecture 9-6 with only a
break 3-4 and I’m always knackered by the end of the day…on Tuesdays
and Wednesdays I go to the library from lunch time until around 8 or 9 so
I usually get a lot done then. However I now have work on a Tuesday
evening so have to stop studying around half 4 or 5 so to compensate I’m
going to come in at 11 for 2 hours before my lecture”
Journal Finding:
Researching for an assignment
“I find it hard to just sit down and write because I’m afraid I don’t have
enough information on the topic, so I have to read books, and look it up
on the internet. However, I then worry that the information I have is
irrelevant to the essay”.
Journal Finding: being proactive
“I have registered for a workshop of academic writing which I hope will
help me. Learning how to write academically is very important. Writing a
college essay is so different to school essays I had to write”.
The Value of the Journal
“This journal is making me realize that I must organize myself and get my
priorities in place”.
Realised at different stages of the reflective process
Student Feedback on Reflection
“Looking back..I guess it was a fairly stressful
time..the main source of stress for me
personally was not knowing what was
expected of you (ie not being familiar with the
standard requirements on essays,
presentations, etc.) Throughout the first
semester I remember constantly stressing over
my results; would I ever pass my modules!?
Needless to say, the days leading up to the
date when the results came out were
absolutely nerve-wracking...”
Are we providing adequate supports?
Are we listening?
The journals have provided a unique
insight and understanding into what
students think about their learning
experiences. They have provided the
rationale for implementing changes into
what is perceived as a traditional
standalone study skills module. The
journals indicate that designing curricula
for the future comes firstly, from being
open to new forms of collaboration across
a university, and secondly, providing
routes for incorporating student feedback
meaningfully into this process.
Traditionally third level curricula have been designed
solely by academics. However, designing a curriculum for
the future requires a more diverse educational input from
a number of stakeholders. These include academics,
librarians and students themselves.
Dunne, S. and Sheridan, V., 2012. ‘The Bigger Picture: Undergraduate Voices
Reflecting on Academic Transition in an Irish University’ Innovations in Education &
Teaching International, 49 (2), pp. 237-247.
Dunne, S. and Sheridan, V., 2013. ‘How Staff Collaboration Can Improve the Student
Learning Experience: the Development of a Module to Support Student Transition
into Higher Education’ In Morgan, Michelle (ed.) ‘Recruiting and Supporting
Diversity – a Practical Guide for Universities and Colleges’. New York: Routledge, pp.
Kift, S., 2009. Articulating a transition pedagogy to scaffold and to enhance the first
year student learning experience in Australian higher education: Final Report for
ALTC Senior Fellowship Program
McGuinness, C. 2007. 'The Use of Reflective Research Journals in a 1st Year
Information Literacy Module' In: Case Studies of Good Practices in Assessment of
Student Learning in Higher Education. Dublin: AISHE.