Effective Teaching in Higher Education: Perceptions of First Year Undergraduate Students

Jo Allan, Karen Clarke, Michael Jopling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article reports on a piece of research designed to explore students’ perceptions of what constitutes effective teaching in a modern UK university. Definitions of effectiveness, based on work in both the schools and university sectors, are explored and summarized into four domains: providing a supportive learning environment; having high expectations; scaffolding learning; and providing clear explanations. The research was undertaken with first year undergraduates studying education-related non-teacher training programs. Data gathered from three focus group interviews were developed into a 32 item Likert scale questionnaire completed by a sample of 80 students, 65 of whom participated in further focus group discussions. Consensus regarding ten factors that describe effective university teachers is posited. The article concludes by suggesting that notions of effectiveness are predicated less on university teachers having high academic expectations and more on the provision of a supportive environment in which teachers scaffold learning effectively and promote effective interaction with their students.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-372
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • higher education
  • teaching
  • effectiveness


Dive into the research topics of 'Effective Teaching in Higher Education: Perceptions of First Year Undergraduate Students'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this