Enhancing the student learning experience: the perspective of academic staff

Jo Cahill, Jan Turner, Helen Barefoot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)
64 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Quality enhancement in higher education is essentially a planned process of change that leads to continuous improvement in the effectiveness of the learning experience of students and the students' experience of higher education. Published literature that explores the concept in the reality of practice is sparse. Purpose: The overall aims of this study were to explore academic staffs' experience of enhancing the student learning experience and gain an understanding of the factors which create opportunities for, and barriers to, the promotion of quality enhancement activity. Design/method/sample: A qualitative research design was employed to capture a range of academic staffs' views from within one faculty in a higher education organisation. Data was collected by way of three digital voice recorded focus group interviews (n=26). Informants were from a range of subject disciplines and professional groups including nursing, midwifery, social work, radiography, physiotherapy, psychology, pharmacy and life sciences. A modified version of the data analysis method advocated by Chenitz and Swanson (From practice to grounded theory: Qualitative research nursing; Sydney: Addison-Wesley, 1986) was used to analyse the data. Findings: The analysis suggests the existence of three conceptual categories: 'Establishing Readiness', and 'Connecting with the Students' and 'Developing a Work and Learning Environment'. The emergent categories are discussed and considered within the broader context of higher education and extant literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-295
Number of pages13
JournalEducational Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • academic staff perceptions
  • quality enhancement
  • student learning experience
  • student engagement


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