Personalised learning for the student-consumer

Partington, Angela (2020) Personalised learning for the student-consumer. Frontiers in Education, ISSN (online) 2504-284X


This paper seeks to contribute to the development of personal tutoring, as a key aspect of learner-centric pedagogy, in response to the changing profile of HE students, (especially in terms of the social and cultural capital which they bring with them, which shapes what and how they want to learn), and the marketisation of HE. It will challenge some of the prevailing views about student engagement, in order to contribute to the development of learning cultures which are relevant to the 21st century (McWilliam, 2010), and to enable personal tutoring to add value to the experience of all students, by explicitly recognising the diverse range of competencies and literacies which students bring to their studies, and enabling students to use these resources to shape their own learning experience. Personal tutoring is commonly understood as a means of helping to ensure ‘student engagement’, and in debates about student engagement, the concept of ‘student as partner’ (SaP) is commonly used in opposition (and in preference) to the concept of ‘student as consumer’ (SaC), but it will be argued that this is a spurious distinction which privileges some ways of learning above others, fails to value the cultural competencies and literacies which all students bring with them, and to appreciate the wide range of learning styles which different students might prefer, or might adopt in different situations, and therefore marginalizes and alienates learners who do not conform to acceptable forms of student behavior which are recognized as evidence of ‘active’ engagement. To develop effective personal tutoring which reflects the diversity of C21st students, we need to transcend the binary opposition between SaP and SaC, by recognizing and embracing that students are active consumers, engaged in the development of their own identities, and that their co-creation of their learning experience is one of the ways they do this.

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