Due to lack of effective study and learning skills, most leaving certificate students who enroll in degree courses in Ireland find it difficult to adapt to the vastly different higher education environment. Students find that the study strategies employed in secondary school don’t always work at the university level. For students to be successful in higher education, they need to acquire efficient and effective study, learning and professional skills (Tinto, 1994). In college, students need to become independent learners. They need to examine past experiences and make any amendments to their practices essential to surmount new challenges (Ritzen, 1996). Research has also shown that graduates do not possess the necessary skills required for full time employment (Blair & Robinson, 1995, Connelly & Middleton, 1996). In fact, it is often communication, problem-solving and interpersonal skills that distinguish those who are preferred for employment (Blair & Robinson, 1995). It is the responsibility of all higher education institutions to ensure that their students are equipped with the necessary skills that will not only assist them throughout their higher education but will also be of great benefit to them when they graduate (Marshall & Rowland, 1998).
In general, higher education institutions employ three main approaches for the development of study and transferable skills of their students: special modules as part of the course curriculum; extracurricular classes/workshops; and the provision of written and other multimedia materials. Each of which will be discussed in detail in the subsequent sections.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Collaborative Peer-Assisted Learning: A learning process where students assist their peers in the understanding of the material to be learnt. This can be achieved via discussion forums, online chatrooms, online conferencing etc.
Intelligent Tutoring System: Refers to a learning system whereby the learning content is dynamically adapted for each individual based on their learning objectives, needs and preferences.
Content Delivery Application (CDA): Facilitates the delivery of the created courses and modules to the student user.
Reflective Learning: An educational pedagogy where the learner is encouraged to reflect on the module material via various activities and thus entices them to become actively involved in their learning.
Content Management System (CMS): A software application which enables the creation, modification and delivery of courses and modules without the need for in-depth knowledge of various technologies and programming languages. Typically CMS’s comprise of two distinct sections; the CMA and the CDA.
Learning Styles: Research has shown that learners have a preferred method of receiving and processing information thus improving learning outcomes. These methods are termed learning styles and are visual, aural, reading/writing and kinesthetic.
The Personna Effect: The process of using a virtual character to engage the learner thus improving the learner’s motivation and enhancing the learning experience.
Content Management Application (CMA): Part of the CMS. The application enables administrators and course lecturers to create, modify or delete courses and course content.
ICT-Based Learning System: Refers to any method of delivering learning material via information and communication technologies, i.e. web-based, computer-based, video, etc.