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Lost in translation

Today’s students struggle to discover the joy of learning for its own sake, write Robert Jones and Liz Thomas.

Recently we conducted research to inform a study on student views of independent thinking. We interviewed 100 students and heard a mixture of stories and experiences that nevertheless had a common theme. Respondents often under-estimated the demands of their degree programmes and, although they expected higher education to be significantly different from their previous educational experiences, they were not always prepared for just how much responsibility they would need to shoulder. “I thought it would be a lot more, just, sort of, reading a book, getting that information, learning that information,” said one fourth-year psychology student. “I thought that would be about it.”

Using three-week-long learning diaries and interviews by trained student-peer-researchers, we identified that students found particularly onerous the requirement to locate, evaluate, absorb and use relevant material. They sorely missed the comparatively close monitoring and supervision experienced in school and college.

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