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Staff and student perceptions of academic expectations: How closely do they align?

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 11:30am – 12:00pm parallel session



Room 4 – 303-G16, Sem



Dr Fiona Bird
La Trobe University, Australia

Dr Ryan Naylor
La Trobe University, Australia

Dr Nicole Butler
La Trobe University, Australia



What are student expectations for university study and academic staff expectations of students, and to what extent do these expectations align? Misalignment in expectations (related to attendance, preparation for class and perceived approaches to study) can potentially negatively impact student experience, as well as the morale of academic staff and their perceptions of students. In this study, we surveyed the student and academic staff perception of their expectations and used paired questions to explore any difference in those expectations between staff and students, demographic sub groups and year level studied or taught. Survey items addressed role and responsibilities for student learning, time spent on study, attendance and preparation for class, marks and standards, help and support, and feedback. Surprisingly, we found that staff and student expectations aligned for nearly half of the survey questions.  Student expectations were lower than staff expectations for hours of study required to pass and do well, and for the standard of work required at each year level. Student responses indicated that the standards required, preparation for class and how to apply for an extension were all made less clear to them than staff believed they were making them. There was also misalignment between staff and student expectations about feedback on drafts, response time to emails or questions posted on online discussion forums, and time taken to return marked work. The differences between staff and students were less extensive than predicted but the areas of misalignment (time on study, standards, feedback, response times) may have a disproportionately high impact on student frustration and dissatisfaction with staff, and staff frustration and dissatisfaction with students. This research identified the need for professional development for academics to raise awareness of the alignment between staff and student expectations, and to generate strategies for addressing the areas of misalignment.


Presentation topic

Students – Wellbeing and Success

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