Developing Student Learning in the Ever-changing Landscape of Higher Education – New Insights From ECNU Review of Education

Research on student learning in higher education provides significant insights into identifying and solving roadblocks on this front

SHANGHAI, March 31, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — In the last 20 years, three main trends have had major influence on student learning in higher education: the shift from offline or classroom education to an online or hybrid educational ecosystem (which became more prominent following the COVID-19 global pandemic), increased and more diverse international student mobility in higher education, and extensive international assessment programs on student learning, such as the National Survey of Student Engagement and Student Experience in the Research University. 

But how do these trends influence the development of student learning in higher education? The special issue of the ECNU Review of EducationEmpowering Student Learning in Higher Education: Pathways to Possibility – addressed this very question, providing significant insights into the matter. "In light of the reflections and debates surrounding higher education, researchers are required to take a more balanced and comprehensive mindset when conceptualizing and investigating student learning," says Prof. Hongbiao Yin from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, China, author of the editorial. A recent video explains this well:

In collaboration with Dr. Lian Shi of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Prof. Yin addressed the first trend, i.e., the shift to digital learning in higher education. In their research paper published in this special edition, the duo explored the effects of online education on students from a research university in China. They found that offline interaction between students and professors generated a more desirable academic outcome and perceptions of learning environments, and higher satisfaction. However, online educational interaction performed better in fostering student autonomy and ensuring the completion of an in-depth thesis.

"These observations can significantly contribute to the improvement of learning and teaching in higher education," says Prof. Yin.

Another study interviewing students in a research university in Chile found that high performers frequently used digital library and tended to adopt a deep approach to learning, whereas students with middle-level achievement opted more for physical library and a strategic approach. Finally, students with low levels of achievement showed lower use of both physical and digital library and a surface approach to learning.

Subsequent articles explored the other two trends in detail. Focusing on the second trend, one study revealed increasing preference for Chinese universities among international students. It, however, showed that, despite acquiring good academic skills and abilities, and Chinese proficiency, they were largely unsatisfied with their learning experiences.

Another study dealt with the perspective of lecturers at a Finnish University on the interaction between international, local, and exchange students, and found a hierarchical description of the encounters between these students.

Exploring the third trend, a study in this edition revealed a lack of consistency in the research methods adopted for assessing student learning and insufficient attention towards student assessments. Yet another study explored the risk of "fake-learning," arising from rewarding academic non-achievements, conformity to ideology, and methodolatry, and how universities contribute to it. 

Due to be released on March, 2022, this special edition of the ECNU Review of Education breaks geographical barriers and holistically covers the aspects of higher education and its impacts on student learning, providing critical analysis, clues, and pointers for guiding future development. 


Title of original paper: Empowering Student Learning in Higher Education: Pathways to Possibility

Journal: ECNU Review of Education


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SOURCE ECNU Review of Education