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A comparison of staff perceptions and student experiences of issues associated with universityA significant body of research (Yorke, 1999a; 1999b; 2000a; 2000b) has examined difficulties experienced by students who withdraw from university. However, less work has been undertaken around students who experience difficulties but choose to remain in their studies. Similarly, limited work has addressed how tutors and university support staff perceive difficulties associated with the student experience and whether these are in line with student accounts. The lack of research around university staff perceptions is surprising given that tutors must have a good knowledge of the student experience in order to be able to understand and support learning. The purpose of this study was twofold. Firstly, to examine what difficulties students reported experiencing during university and secondly, to ascertain if university staff knowledge of student difficulties were in line with student accounts. Using semi-structured interviews and an online questionnaire, staff and student perceptions of university difficulties were examined. Results showed that all students experienced difficulties whilst studying. It was generally found that university staff had a good knowledge of student difficulties. However, two types of difficulty were identified (related to university systems and experience of teaching) of which staff were less aware. Possible explanations for findings are offered along with recommendations as to how findings might influence a learning developer.
Development of the ALDinHE recognition scheme: Certifying the ‘Learning Developer’ titleOver the last fifteen years, the pedagogy of learning development has become increasingly established within UK universities (Hilsdon, 2018). As such, there have never been more individuals who professionally identify with the ‘learning developer’ title. Self-identification with a professional title is always going to be problematic as there will be significant variation in background, experience, qualifications and values amongst practitioners. This will result in confusion and ambiguity around the meaning of a title (such as learning developer), which in turn can undermine practitioners’ professional status and career development opportunities. It is therefore unsurprising that over the last five years there has been a growing call amongst the learning development community to introduce greater consistency around how the learning developer title is used (Webster, 2015; Webster, 2017; Johnson, 2018). The Association for Learning Development in Higher Education (ALDinHE) has responded to this call to action by developing a recognition scheme for learning developers. This has two levels - certified practitioner (CeP) and certified leading practitioner (CeLP). Unlike other educational development recognition schemes - for example, Higher Education Academy (HEA) fellowships or Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) fellowships) - the CeP/CeLP scheme involves evidencing core values associated with practicing learning development. As such, it provides the first bespoke recognition opportunity for the learning development community. This article outlines how the ALDinHE recognition scheme was conceived, piloted and launched at the 2018 Learning Development Conference.