The ideal student – valued by both learners and university staff – is a punctual, organized, hardworking and enthusiastic learner – rather than someone with excellent academic results, high intelligence and good employability. .
These are the results of a new study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Educational review, which involved a survey of over 1,000 students and staff at UK universities, and focus groups with 132 members of both groups.
Participants were asked to write down their five most and least important characteristics of an ideal student. The researchers then asked 1,043 university students and staff across the UK to rate each of the characteristics on a scale of one to five of importance.
The results showed that there are eight dimensions to being the “ ideal student ”, and of these characteristics, by far the most important dimension valued by both groups was “ diligence and commitment ” – reflecting the importance of attributes such as a positive attitude towards learning, a strong work ethic, enthusiasm for a subject, dedication and effort.
The second most important dimension respected was “organization and discipline”, including organization, preparation, punctuality and respect for the rules of the institution.
‘Academic skills’, ’employability skills’ and ‘intelligence and a strategic approach’ were ranked among the bottom three by staff and students. Academic skills refer to the assets typically valued and rewarded in college, such as critical thinking, use of statistics, report writing, and presentation skills. Employability skills, on the other hand, include attributes generally valued by employers, including communication, leadership and social skills, as well as work experience and extracurricular activities.
The lowest rated dimension was “intelligence and a strategic approach”, showing that being academically intelligent, capable and successful was considered the least important overall.
“Being smart and strategic doesn’t seem to be as important for staff and moderately more important for students,” says Dr Billy Wong, associate professor of education at the University of Reading, co-author of the article.
“This is surprising, given the extent to which graduates are often judged on the results of their degrees. Universities are also increasingly measured, advertised and ranked based on statistics on the employment of their graduates, he said. So it’s interesting that job skills are at the bottom of the ideal attribute list. “
The eight dimensions of what makes an ideal student were chosen, in order, such as:
- diligence and commitment
- organization and discipline
- reflection and innovation
- positive and confident outlook
- support others
- academic skills
- employability skills
- intelligence and strategic approach
However, perhaps not without surprise, staff and students differed slightly in their idea of the “ideal student”. For example, staff rated employability skills as less important than students. Having a “positive and confident attitude” was also ranked third by students and sixth by staff, reflecting the higher importance of mental health and happiness for students.
“The importance of student happiness and confidence is crucial in efforts to promote better mental health and better student well-being, especially as the demand for academic mental health and counseling services would have increased. increased in recent years, ”says Dr Billy Wong.
“Our study highlights a gap between staff and students in their perceptions and priorities regarding student well-being, suggesting that it could be beneficial for the professional development of staff to include training on the role that staff can play a role in supporting student welfare.