Enhancing Learning Opportunities in Higher Education: Best Practices that reflect on the Themes of the National Student Survey, UK

Muhandiramge Gomis, Mandeep Saini, Chaminda Pathirage, Mohammed Arif

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study aims to assess “learning opportunities” provided to undergraduate students, from level three to six, in higher education (HE). A knowledge gap was identified within the current practice relating to learning opportunities for built environment (BE) students in HE. The study focussed on the themes under section two of the national student survey (NSS): how students explore ideas or concepts in-depth, bring information and ideas together from different topics and apply the learned content in a real-life context. The study aimed to provide recommendations for enhancing “learning opportunities” to the BE students within HE. Design/methodology/approach: Data collection focussed on section two of NSS “learning opportunities” and documentary analysis, and a qualitative survey were adopted for this study. A documental analysis of 334 mid-module reviews was carried out. The qualitative data was collected from level three to level six students and academics from architecture, construction management, civil engineering and quantity surveying disciplines representing BE context. A sample of 40 students and 15 academics, including a Head of school, a Principal lecturer, Subject leads and lecturers, participated in interviews as part of a qualitative survey. In total, 12 drivers were developed using the data obtained through literature, documental analysis and interviews. These drivers were analysed using manual content analysis to identify their influence on the specified themes under NSS section two and circulated amongst academics to be ranked by identifying its influence to promote learning opportunities to BE students in HE. Findings: This study highlighted 12 drivers which promote learning opportunities in HE within BE curriculum. Findings established that topics should be explained with more real-life or industry-orientated concepts such as simplification integrated into module delivery. Contrary to the literature, the use of physical materials (i.e. handouts and whiteboard) in addition to a virtual learning environment for detailed explanations were considered effective in exploring concepts. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, context-based learning needs to be promoted by integrating videos of practical implementation for better understanding. The study recognised that lab, fieldwork and tutorials were essential to apply what students have learned in BE curricula to a real-life context. Originality/value: This study identified current learning approaches and provided recommendations to improve the BE students learning experience in HE. They identified 12 drivers that would significantly help academics and academic institutions to understand how learning opportunities should be facilitated in the BE curriculum to enhance student performances in HE.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-292
Number of pages16
JournalQuality Assurance in Education
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The data obtained for this study was based on a project guided by a steering committee within the University of Wolverhampton, chaired by Professor Mohammed Arif. Amongst the committee members, credit needs to be given to Stephen Wilkinson, Dr Amit Kaushik, Dr Lovelin Obi and Dr Nii Ankrah for their significant input on the data collection. Furthermore, both the student and academic participants at the University of Wolverhampton need recognition for their insightful comments.


  • NSS learning opportunities
  • National student survey
  • Quality in education
  • Teaching and learning pedagogy
  • Teaching practice in HE


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