Student Engagement within Higher Education: An Analysis of Staff and Student’s Opinions beyond Academic Engagement

Crabtree, Ruth M. (2020) Student Engagement within Higher Education: An Analysis of Staff and Student’s Opinions beyond Academic Engagement. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Higher education and the dynamic environment that it operates within has been well documented, with many factors impacting upon the effectiveness of the sector. At the forefront of such strategic thinking, is how universities interact and engage with their students. This thesis investigates student engagement with the UK higher education sector, focusing on staff and student opinions beyond academic engagement, taking a holistic approach that research has suggested is lacking. Three empirical studies were undertaking to investigate: the role of staff and students within engagement activities; and the benefits and barriers to student engagement.

Study one involved a qualitative analysis (n=14) interviewing staff that worked in a UK university and had a role in student engagement. A focus group methodology (n=21) was utilised for study two exploring student opinions of engagement. Study three involved an online questionnaire (n= 1,411) examining student views on advantages and barriers to engagement activity.

The results revealed that both staff and students agreed that student engagement resulted in many benefits for the individual, university and society. Staff working in higher education stated that potential barriers to universities engaging with their students included resourcing, issues related to operational, process and systems. Students suggested that the main barriers preventing students engaging at university were: transitioning to university; other commitments; financial constraints; mental health issues; lack of confidence and motivation; learning difficulties; lack of support; cultural differences; class size; difficulty in joining clubs; and staff buy-in. The findings reveal 4 different types of students that are grouped based upon: the type of engagement activity they undertake; the role they perceive of students within engagement; benefits and barriers to engagement.

In line with the requirements of a professional doctorate, recommendations have been suggested to aid organisational policy regarding student engagement within higher education.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Student Typology, Barriers to Engagement, Advantages of Engagement, University, Student Journey
Subjects: C800 Psychology
X300 Academic studies in Education
X900 Others in Education
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Psychology
University Services > Graduate School > Professional Doctorate
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2020 08:27
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2022 10:45

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