First-Year Undergraduate Student Expectations of two UK Chemistry Degree Programmes

Dylan P Williams, Shane Lo Fan Hin, Erlina Erlina


Recent work on student perceptions of skills development and engagement with different teaching and learning approaches have provided useful evidence bases for practitioners aiming to enhance the student learning experience. Although there has been some useful research on student expectations in non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) disciplines, there remains an opportunity to measure and analyse the expectations of students in STEM disciplines, particularly chemistry. The aim of this study was to measure the expectations that first year undergraduate chemists have of the types of learning experiences that will be included in their degree programmes, the amount of time per week that they will devote to different aspects of study and the types of learning behaviours they will adopt. Data was collected using questionnaires deployed at the Universities of Leicester and Sussex in the 2017/18 academic year. The study has shown that many students overestimate the amount of lecture based (59%) and small group based (57%) contact time they expect to have. Students appear to place a high value on the importance of feedback in the learning process but the proportion of students who agree they will read and act on feedback decreases over the course of the academic year. A number of factors feed into student reflections on the difference between expectation and reality including the quality of student life (e.g. quality of accommodation and social activities), value-for-money concerns (e.g. the amount of contact time and the quality of teaching) and matters related to workload and learning support.


Undergraduate; Chemistry; Year One; Student Experience

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