Integrating Successful Student Owned Learning with a Research Intensive University

Samantha Pugh, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Leeds

Abstract

There is currently much dialogue within higher education regarding the role that
learners can have in enhancing their own learning experience and the opportunities that universities should provide to enable them to do so. There is increasing recognition of the importance of the ‘student voice’, and the role that students can play in influencing the design and content of the higher education curriculum. This therefore gives rise to the question, how can we as universities successfully involve students in creating the learning process in a meaningful way? Student owned learning (SOL) involves placing learners in direct control of their learning, but within a broad academically-defined framework that offers sufficient flexibility for the students themselves to determine the overall direction and nature of the activities that they will undertake, either as individuals or as a group.

If implemented successfully, SOL provides a balance of activity that enables
students to learn deeply, but perhaps more significantly to effectively develop their higher-order capabilities deemed essential for the workplace and further study, including open-ended problem solving, group work, leadership, critical analysis and resilience.

Several examples of SOL activities that have been successfully integrated within the Faculty of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at the University of Leeds will be presented, exploring the benefits that student owned learning offers to both staff and students. The paper will conclude by offering practical advice and guidance for those wishing to explore how their learning activities may become more ‘student owned’.

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