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Academic skills

Given the diversity of the student population we should not assume that all students share our understanding of what learning is or of the terms we use in relation to learning. For this reason, we may need to proactively scaffold the development of the academic skills students need to succeed at university. Strategies for doing this could include:

  • exploring students' understanding of and approaches to learning;
  • articulating expectations of generic and subject specific higher education-level learning;
  • providing opportunities for students to experiment and then reflect on and compare recent experiences of learning to previous experiences.

Students need to be clear about the skills they need to succeed and the opportunities provided to develop them. This helps them to be more aware of any gaps they may have and helps you to avoid the pitfall of assuming they have skills they may not actually have in reality.

Good programme design, therefore, includes actively planning where and when the opportunities for developing and practising key skills (for example, skills for undertaking assessment) are situated in the curriculum. Part of this involves programme teams reflecting on whether academic and subject skills should be developed through discrete skills modules or by embedding skills within other content.

The linked resources on this page can support you in developing your students' academic skills.


May, H. & Thomas, L. (2010). Embedding Equality and Diversity in the Curriculum: Self-evaluation framework. York, Higher Education Academy. 10.

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