A report published this week by the National Union of Students (NUS) has found that more than half of students want more interactive group learning sessions.
The report, funded by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), was the result of a survey of more than 5,000 students and is the first of a series of reports on the student experience to be published by NUS in 2012.
The findings of the report show students value contact with lecturers and fellow students and inspirational teaching over lecturers’ research records or academic qualifications. The results will give pause for thought to universities seeking to save money by restricting direct contact time, cramming students into lecture halls or prioritising research over teaching.
The report also looks at how students perceive employability, how they are engaged in their learning, and the quality of feedback from tutors.
Usman Ali, NUS Vice-President (Higher Education), said:
"There is a clear indication here that gimmicks or occasional lectures in huge theatres with famous academics are no replacement for the bread and butter of quality teaching and face-to-face interaction with students."
"Universities should listen to what students are calling for and build their courses appropriately. Students have a huge amount riding on their education and should play a key part in its production."
When asked what would most improve their academic experience, 50.2% said that more interactive/group teaching sessions would improve their experience. This was followed by 43.3% of students who would like more individual tutorials and 41.9% who wanted more contact time with a personal tutor.
Half of students (54.7%) regarded an inspirational lecturer as a motivator to do well in their studies.
52.1% of students said that they were involved or somewhat involved in helping to shape the content of their course, compared to 75% who would like to be. Around a fifth of students said they would like to be involved by either being a course rep or by being involved in setting the assessment criteria.
Currently 42.3% of students said that they received verbal feedback from the tutor who set the work, compared to 66.1% who said that they would like the opportunity to do this.
NUS (National Union of Students) is a voluntary membership organisation which makes a real difference to the lives of students and its member students' unions.
We are a confederation of 600 students' unions, amounting to more than 95 per cent of all higher and further education unions in the UK. Through our member students' unions, we represent the interests of more than seven million students.