The impact of Learning Development tutorials on student attainment

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University Learning Development teams provide expert advice to learners regarding the development and enhancement of academic skills such as essay writing, dissertations, critical analysis, mathematics, and statistics. The majority of universities have set up Learning Development or similar academic support services in recent years. However, little research has been conducted to understand the effect of such help on student attainment. At the University of Northampton, this service is perceived as pivotal in supporting students through their studies. The impact on student grades and future attainment was examined using three and a half years of student assessment data (over 16,000 students and 175,000 assessments) which was connected to information gathered from the Learning Development one-to-one tutorials database. Although causality cannot be claimed, there was an average rise of one to two sub grades for learners who attended at least one Learning Development tutorial compared to those who did not use this assistance. Furthermore, historical tutorials positively affected grades of students with an additional two percent increase in their future assignments. Students from the faculties of Business and Law and Education and Humanities saw the largest increase in attainment compared to students within their faculties who did not have tutorials. Furthermore, students from a black ethnic background and aged 25 years or below also gained the most in terms of attainment compared to other ethnic groups and more mature students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Learning Development in Higher Education
Issue number1
Early online date29 May 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 May 2020


  • Learning Development
  • tutorial
  • attainment
  • users
  • academic skills


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