Effective Learning Support in Higher Education: My Living Theory of student-centred learning support in National College of Ireland.
Goldrick, Michael (2010) Effective Learning Support in Higher Education: My Living Theory of student-centred learning support in National College of Ireland. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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This thesis is the product of my living theory of effective learning support practices in National College of Ireland. As a journey of improvement, it describes how I came to be a learning support tutor and attempted to put in place educational practices and resources that were equally accessible, fair and supportive to all students.
This process of improvement is described using a self-study action research approach, which I used to reflect on my teaching practices. Using mixed methodology I combined my own self-reflection with the views of students, which together allowed me to identify areas where I needed to improve upon. Having then identified that I was living in a state of contradiction, I applied elements of universal design theory, inclusive teaching practices and concepts of equality, to create three principles of student-centred learning support.
Incorporating these principles into my living educational theory, I later attempted to improve my pedagogy, my resources and accessibility for all students in National College of Ireland. As a means to accomplish these goals I studied teaching and learning theories, developed a learning support manual based on national and international best practices and created a virtual learning support service.
The effectiveness of these activities were evaluated using self-reflection, surveys, interviews, peer review at conferences, as well as the quantitative analysis of student results. Through the use of these mixed methods, I make the claim that my efforts to improve my service were both qualitatively accepted by both students and my peers as well as quantitatively effective in helping to increase student performance.
In adopting paradigm relativism and mixed methodologies, this work seeks to develop a hybrid approach to practitioner research by incorporating elements of both traditional action research and self-focussed approaches.
As an insight into how student centrism can be improved upon in Higher Education, my research may have significance for other learning support tutors, directors of learning and teaching and faculty who wish to increase their own student-centred activities.
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