Student Voice Series – Learning at Deakin University with Ella Longstaff

OCT, 2019

Teaching & Learning
Student Voice
Students As Partners

I’m Ella, a third-year communications student currently working as a Communications Support Officer and Student Partner in Deakin Learning Futures.

How do students feel about their learning experience at Deakin University? I went out and interviewed students on campus to hear about their experiences whilst studying here and how they feel about their learning at Deakin. Most students agreed their basic educational needs are covered – i.e. appropriate facilities, teaching staff and resources. Ultimately it is still difficult to accommodate all types of learners. Despite being able to study in person and online, there are various benefits and shortcomings.

Some students think that classroom teaching is often repetitive and occasionally failed to motivate students to do well. One student from the Faculty of Business and Law described some teachers as being “too formal and repetitive”, which made the class “boring”. Creative ways of delivering content would go a long way to improve this.

“If a tutor does different activities to engage you, as opposed to just reading off a PowerPoint”.

Some students also indicated they preferred Work Integrated Learning or “hands on learning” which “is more attractive compared to other assignments”.

Above: Students Conversing on the Way to Class

In my own experience, the units I did best in had outgoing teachers that were fun and got us involved in group discussions and peer-assessment, rather than reciting unit content. I also feel it’s important to break down the teacher-student barrier and that teachers should show that they care for both our wellbeing and learning. One student mentioned:  

“I don’t know if…teachers care…Maybe they do and they just don’t show it”.

Classes on campus offer opportunities to ask questions in a group and one-on-one. Having group discussions in a classroom environment made students “psychologically more inclined to remember things”. However, some students found it difficult to attend classes due to the times allocated. This drives the transition to units or classes available on CloudDeakin, as it is flexible and can be accessed at any time. One student discussed the benefits of online learning as “a great way to catch up on lectures” if they can’t make it to a class. There are however, shortcomings of digital learning, as platforms like CloudDeakin offer a different type of engagement. Some students think these online spaces are too formal, aren’t as motivating and limited. I find this leads to lower participation in forums and online sessions. Personally, I feel it harder to engage online as I enjoy active energy of classroom learning.

Although CloudDeakin is a great resource for students and teachers, classroom learning offers a unique experience for learners. Having the opportunity to go to class and interact, structures learning around a different type of engagement. Despite the pros and cons of each experience, I believe that to enhance learning in a classroom and online, teachers need to find a more creative approach to engage different learners.

Some Useful Resources

For more on Students as Partners please visit DSL’s Students as Partners Sharepoint site here

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