Online learning resources and mentoring programmes could boost the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds entering higher education, according to a pioneering Kingston University study. Measures like these could also improve undergraduates’ chances of getting a good degree. The Widening Access and Success research project has investigated how e-learning can encourage students from a more diverse range of backgrounds to apply for university as well as improving overall student success rates. Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies Research, the £340,000 project has taken three years to complete.
Experts have been working with students on access courses at the University’s partner further education colleges to see how Kingston’s virtual learning environment Blackboard could help increase applications to university. More than 80 per cent of students surveyed were aged 25 or over and the first in their families to consider higher education, project leader Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Caroline Gipps said.
As well as having access to 24-hour online resources such as lecture notes and handouts, they were able to find out about the experiences of current Kingston undergraduates from similar backgrounds through a mentoring programme. “These students often had misconceptions about both the workload and nature of assignments at university,” Professor Gipps said.
Phil Smith | alfa
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