Corley, Caroline (2010) Academic skills in higher education: Who wants them and needs them? In: "Society for Research into Higher Education" Annual PostGraduate and Newer Researchers Conference 2010, 14th - 16th December 2010, Celtic Manor, Newport. (Unpublished)

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The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the findings about student and staff perceptions of the academic skills of first year undergraduates and the differences between diverse student groups. This is empirical research reporting on completed research conducted over 2 years, initiated because of the number of students seeking and being referred for additional support for academic study skills issues.
Previous research has been based on testing and actual ability (Tariq and Cochrane, 2003) however, this research focuses on perceptions, as they can affect engagement (Washer, 2007). The presentation will explain how a deductive approach was taken which began by asking what the issues are and this led to uncovering theories about traditional and non-traditional students’ perceptions, which would not have been as clear if traditional methods had been used.
Purposeful sampling was used in one school in a University, as academic skills are usually taught in the first year of the degree programmes. Quantitative analysis of online questionnaires was completed to check for statistical significance and was followed up with qualitative analysis of focus groups and interviews to expand the results further.
The presentation aims to highlight that universities need to change along with the globalised student body and it would be better if they stopped thinking about two distinct groups of traditional and non-traditional, as there is little difference between them anymore. They also would benefit from feedback from the students themselves rather than making assumptions based on ‘old’ university perceptions (Brennan and Osborne, 2008).
It concludes that it is important to have academic skills instruction in first year for all students as there are no guarantees that students are prepared for studying at a tertiary level (Wingate, 2006). Universities need to be more aware that some problems are about perceptions and confidence in abilities, yet there is a fundamental issue about the lack of higher level skills that students posses when starting university, regardless of their previous qualification level.

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