Mullen, Jane, Hatton, Jean and Frankland, Sharon (2011) Constructive Dialogue with Students. In: 8th Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) Conference: Engaging students- Engaging learning, 18th-20th April 2011, Queen's University Belfast. (Unpublished)

All too often modules and courses are developed, re-written and revalidated with little student involvement in the process. As with many universities ours is now placing an increasing emphasis on the ‘student voice’, with student representatives, student panels and module evaluations. This research intends to ultimately use the findings to evaluate course delivery, structure and student self efficacy. However, this paper will present some interim findings from a longitudinal study on the transformative nature of higher education and explore the interplay between students’ prior experiences and the development of new frames of reference, as they seek to find meaning in their first year of study (Mezirow, 2000).

The paper explores the connection between the perhaps questionable concept of self esteem and the students’ perceived control in their first few months at university (Stupnisky et al 2007). The students are on three very different undergraduate courses, but all three have professional links or endorsement and the students start placements within the first term. The paper explores questionnaire results obtained from over ninety students at the start and end of their first term on their self esteem and perceived control related to both their academic and placement experiences. This data is enriched by further in-depth semi structured interviews with ten students, which allows for a closer examination of the transformative process and factors that directly impact on the way students construct both academic and vocational ‘meaningful knowledge and skills’ (Choy, 2009:66).


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