Eleven out of the 14 who responded to this section believed it was either true or largely true that ‘The vast majority of students leave the institution with enhanced levels of learning literacy’, though one of the remaining 3 auditors described students graduating ‘innumerate’ and with ‘appalling’ levels of English usage’ which reflected badly on the institution.
Seven respondents thought it was ‘true’ that Learners have support for learning development throughout their studies, though a significant minority (5) thought it was only ‘partly true’ at their institutions. Respondents were also divided over whether ‘Learners have opportunities to practice their skills and literacies in subject contexts’ and were much less confident that ‘The institution actively identifies and intervenes to support learners who are struggling’.
Asked about the issues that were driving their institutional response to the literacy agenda, respondents gave the following rank ordering.
Drivers for institutional action on learning literacy
|Student expectations|| 40|
|Employability agenda and employers as stakeholders*|| 39|
|Dealing with a more diverse student population|| 32|
|Changing technologies and digital practices|| 32|
|External funding and policy drivers|| 18|
|Internal leadership and special initiatives|| 15|
|Staff champions on the ground|| 13|
* The employability agenda is the clear winner if first priorities only are considered (6 choices, as compared to the next nearest score of 2 for student expectations, diversity and changing technologies).
These auditors clearly felt that deep structural changes in the context of education were driving the literacies agenda, rather than any short-term funding opportunities, initiatives or enthusiasms. Students and employers as stakeholders are perceived as key forces behind the agenda for change.
Finally, auditors were asked to anticipate how the situation might change at their institution over the coming 3 years. One was extremely pessimistic about the direction of change: ‘resources will continue to be taken out, the role of learning and teaching will continue not to be prioritised’. All other respondents felt that institutional policy and practice was moving in the direction of greater recognition, articulation, embedding and support for literacies of the digital, particularly in a context of economic downturn and increased competition for high-value jobs.
- Technologies in the hands of learners, such as Flip cameras and PDAs which they can physically handle, and software such as social networking tools with which they are already familiar, can give learners more confidence in a learning situation (but while this lowers barriers of confidence, it is not enough to enable deep learning)