First Year Student Experience of a Learning Skills Module: Information to drive improvements

Downey, Darvree (2013) First Year Student Experience of a Learning Skills Module: Information to drive improvements. In: 6th Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference – Sustainable Models of Student Engagement – Rhetoric or Achievable? 17th October 2013 in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin., Dublin, Ireland.


Students coming directly from school to third level and mature students can struggle to manage their learning in a new environment. One approach to helping students make the transition to third level is providing a module in first year that aims to develop learning skills. ITT Dublin introduced a learning skills module (Learning-to-Learn at Third Level (L2L)) in September 2012 on a college-wide basis. The module syllabus was prepared by a multidisciplinary team, based on similar courses introduced in recent years in other third level institutes. Module content includes learning strategies, group work, communication skills, study skills, self-management and academic writing. Assessment was based on an in-class writing-skills exam, a group project and a learning journal. Feedback was sought from first year science students with the aim of assessing the efficacy of the module from a student perspective in order to enhance future delivery. A total of 103 students were surveyed of whom 81.6% had completed the Leaving Cert in the previous two years. The survey was completed in-class and was anonymous. 40.4% of respondents found the module helped them to understand the difference between learning at second and third level but 26.9% did not. More than half the students surveyed did not believe they needed the module. The feedback indicated that group-work opportunities should be retained. There were contrasting attitudes to the validity of reflective writing. Removal of time- consuming reflections with greater use of the learning journal in-class may help to develop reflective practice without making it a resented chore. It was notable that practical information on how work is assessed and how GPA is calculated was appreciated by many students. Different aspects of the module appeal to different students depending on their perceived deficits but greatest engagement occurs when students understand the practical application of the learning skills to their core subjects.

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