The big picture: mining the student data resource to inform learning development provision

Elizabeth Tanguay, Peter Hanratty


Accurately assessing student needs is a key concern for learning developers in order for provision to have a strong evidence base. Studies investigating student study needs in higher education tend to provide a snapshot in time and are limited to a certain number of students (Liu et al., 2011; Sloan et al., 2013). Others have surveyed users of learning development centres, but not their needs (Buchanan, 2015).

In order to develop evolving needs-based writing provision across Swansea University, the Academic Success Programme (ASP) has implemented a web-based system for recording identified areas for improvement in 1:1 tutorial sessions. The ongoing needs analysis is based on student essays in progress and identifies textual and functional categories for improvement. Grouping records according to student metadata allows us to profile student needs according to discipline area and year of study. The emerging patterns enable us to create bespoke workshops for particular student cohorts. To illustrate this process, an example needs analysis and curriculum design for Swansea University’s College of Human and Health Sciences is described.



learning development; study skills; needs analysis; writing provision; curriculum design; 1:1 appointments; tutorials; subject-specific support.

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ISSN: 1759-667X