…about how they are feeling as they start or return to studying with us here at the University of Reading.
“Teach me with patience” – student quote
During the summer term of 2021, we spoke with and surveyed many new and returning students around how they were feeling about starting or returning to their studies at the university in the autumn. Many of our colleagues already teach their students ‘with patience’ – the need from students for this was clear in our discussions with them and in their survey responses.
Summary of issues raised by students about coming or returning to study at Reading
- During A level some topics were not covered, or were covered at speed, so some students are anxious they do not have the requisite established background knowledge
- Many students felt that the pace of online learning was a lot quicker, or topics were taught in a condensed manner, so they may not have fully grasped key concepts and may lack in-depth knowledge
- As many topics were either taught quickly or not covered, students may lack a synoptic understanding of their subject
- For practical subjects, students have had very limited opportunities to do such work
- Students have expressed concerns about university assignments and what is expected – students would like support in being absolutely clear about what needs to be done for an assignment and what is expected for a good piece of work
Generic academic concerns:
- Many students did not complete an EPQ and feel they therefore lack experience of conducting independent research
- Many students are anxious about the expectations for university-level work, especially in relation to study skills, e.g. how to make notes from reading effectively, how to best make use of lectures
- Several students have had fewer opportunities to interact in classes, and have found it hard to contribute in online sessions, so need encouragement to build their confidence in contributing in lectures and seminars
- Students have had very variable experiences of doing exams – many have sat mini-exams, but not all, and the majority have not had to revise for an ‘exam season’
- Some students have received less feedback on assessed work in school, so may not know how best to respond to feedback
- Students have not had physical access to library resources, so lack confidence in accessing and utilising materials
- Some students spoke about a loss of morale and a diminished passion for learning
- Many students expressed higher levels of anxiety around mixing with people – a number of students have gone ‘into their shells’, and find engaging with people more difficult, and Freshers’ Week may feel overwhelming
- Online learning and lockdown has made it easier for students to withdraw and become reclusive, so students may need encouragement to take part in social activities
- Students have had less experience of managing finances
- Due to being at home for significant periods of time, students have not engaged in much risk-taking behaviour, so may find themselves doing so for the first time amongst new people
- Some students have engaged with Online Courses (OCs) to support their learning, so have experience of learning more independently
- Students are generally happier to talk about mental health issues
- Many have used social media extensively to support learning and address mental health issues during lockdown
What Y13 students told us
See this document (available internally only to staff already logged in to Blackboard): UoR Student Academic Transitions: After the last year, what are students asking for? for more details about what Y13 and returning students have shared with us, along with top tips and practical advice developed in response to this student feedback.
Student Academic Transitions Survey
This *student academic transitions survey report details the qualitative findings of a survey of 137 UoR students who were asked about their 2021/22 return to study and their feelings about transitioning in to their next academic year. *This report provides details of the survey’s quantitative insights.
*Available to internal UoR staff only who are logged in to Blackboard.
Dr Richard Harris & Anne-Marie Henderson (September 2021)