You can take a student 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 academic support tutorials including mathematics and statistics 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 the academic support teams. However, this is an untested hypothesis. This research paper examines this hypothesis, determining whether students who visited a Learning Development team at the University of Northampton for 1-to-1 support were more engaged, self-confident, feel they belong or worry about their ability. Learning development at the University of Northampton supports all academic skills including mathematics and statistics. Furthermore, this paper explores whether accounting for engagement, whether the team still made 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 responses from 402 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 students in two ways:-
•Comparing those that used 1 to 1 support with Learning Development with those that had not.
•Comparing pre and post attainment results accounting for engagement, belonging and self-confidence

Unsurprising engaged students were more likely to seek academic support. This finding alone brings into discussion planning of future interventions. The research brings questions for academic service teams

1)Do we care that it is the more engaged students that seek support?
2)What are the barriers for students seeking support?
3)How can we engage with the less engaged students?
Period15 Jun 2021
Event titleLearning and Teaching Conference 2021
Event typeConference
LocationNorthamptonShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal