You can bring a horse to water, but will it prosper? Examining the relationship of students seeing Learning Development with student engagement, belonging and self-confidence

Activity: Academic Talks or PresentationsOral presentationResearch


There is evidence that Learning Development tutorials impact student grades (Loddick and Coulson, 2020). However, this is thought to be due to engaged students asking for support. As a result, their grades are better rather than the impact of Learning Development. However, this is an untested hypothesis. This research paper examines this hypothesis, determining whether students who visit Learning Development for 1-to-1 support are more engaged, self-confident, feel they belong or worry about their ability. Furthermore, this paper explores whether accounting for engagement, Learning Development still makes a difference in terms of attainment or whether the link between engagement and attainment cannot be separated.
The findings come from a university-wide survey in early 2020, which included 292 undergraduate students at the University of Northampton. The survey examined the prevalence and usage of Learning Development. Additional questions from a study by Yorke (2016) were asked to ascertain students level of academic engagement, self-confidence and belonging. This data was then merged with the students' academic assessment grades. The results compare those students who used Learning Development tutorials and drop-in with those that had not.
Unsurprising engaged students were more likely to seek Learning Development 1-to-1 support. This finding alone brings into discussion planning of future interventions.
Loddick, A. and Coulson, K. (2020) Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education The impact of Learning Development tutorials on student attainment, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. Available at: (Accessed: 4 November 2020).
Yorke, M. (2016) ‘The development and initial use of a survey of student “belongingness”, engagement and self-confidence in UK higher education’, Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 41(1). doi: 10.1080/02602938.2014.990415.
Period9 Apr 2021
Event titleALDinHE 2021: The Learning Development Conference
Event typeConference
LocationNorthampton, United Kingdom
Degree of RecognitionNational