In essence students at higher-level education have only limited choices in how they learn: they can attend lectures or not, they can work hard or not; they can seek further knowledge or not – but teachers provide, encourage and make available the choices to them. It is the lecturer’s responsibility to create the conditions in which understanding is possible. It would be quite possible to argue that students should take responsibility for their own learning, where they use the university or college as a set of resources largely under their control.
This vision of a community pursuing their own course towards knowledge and enlightenment, inspired and not directed by their educators, is largely achieved at postgraduate level. However undergraduate students are exploring an already known field of knowledge; they are not breaking new ground, except at a personal level. Although is it often argued in university education we should encourage students to develop their own point of view within a subject, to be critical and not accept spoon-feeding, we none-the-less expect the right answers.
Hence, the model of education at undergraduate level is more often didactic than negotiated, teaching methods are one-to-many rather than one-to-one, and we control rather that offer resources. Consequently as academics we have responsibility for what and how our students learn. Lecturers play an essential role in the development of students study skills and general learning development. The growing importance can be attributed to changes in the composition of the student body, the spread of computerised information and the increased emphasis on skills development, often linked to ‘employability.’