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Design considerations for personalised supported learning: implications for higher education

Prowse, Alicia and Vargas, Valeria and Powell, Stephen (2020) Design considerations for personalised supported learning: implications for higher education. Journal of Further and Higher Education. ISSN 0013-1326

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Abstract

Attempts to personalise mass higher education systems have received increasing attention as universities compete to attract students. In the United Kingdom (UK), most higher education institutions have a system of personalised supported learning, usually called personal tutoring. Personal tutors are typically academic members of staff who support students to integrate into the university academic community. Institutions assume that a system of personal tutoring enables student satisfaction, progression and attainment – key performance indicators in competitive higher education landscapes. Personal tutors support their tutees in achieving their personal, academic or professional goals. Systems of personal tutoring are often designed around what role the personal tutor should perform, rather than what purpose the role should serve. This paper uses thematic analysis of students’ perceptions of personalised support for university learning, to elucidate improvements to its’ design and contributes to theorising effective personalised student support mechanisms. Insights from this analysis showed students could detect design that lacked sincerity, particularly in relation to adequate resourcing. A central contradiction may therefore exist in resourcing personalised support within a mass higher education experience. A design tool using the dimensions to be considered in the approach to creating systems of personalised supported learning is presented and discussed.

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