Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

What Do Students Really Want From Higher Education?: But Will It Get Me More Marks?

Pat Hill.

In the present situation of widening participation in the U.K. more and more students are aspiring to be graduates, often with the expectation that this will lead to a satisfying career and better financial prospects.

As part of a larger study into the development of writing skills, this paper examines student motivation. Extracts from interviews and examples of written work taken over a three year period are used to discuss the short and long term goals of English and Media students and how these, sometimes conflicting, goals have affected their progress in developing their writing.

Reflected in this material are the tensions inherent in the situation where the discipline and the medium share the name ‘English’. These tensions are particularly relevant for students who will be expected to be capable of using fluent and appropriate English, largely based on the name of their degree subject.

This study suggests that students use feedback on written work selectively. They judge it against priorities which are often focussed on simply passing a module or obtaining a particular grade. It takes concentrated effort to make consistent changes in an adult writing style and this effort is often deemed not worthwhile. Consequently, we have English and media students who can use quite complex analytical tools but struggle to produce formal standard English at the level employers expect.


Pat Hill  (United Kingdom)
English Department
University of Huddersfield

Lecturer in English Language at Huddersfield University and final year PhD student researching the development of student writing

  • Student Writing Skills
  • Employment Prospects
  • Student Priorities
  • Student Motivation
  • Use of Feedback

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)