Improving the Quality of Student Learning

  • Graham Gibbs

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    My scholarship concerning improving student learning has been undertaken at each of six levels of organisation in higher education systems:
    Improving individual students as learners (Section 1)
    Improving individual teachers' ability to improve student .learning (Section 2)
    Improving the design of assessment so that it supports learning better (Section 5)
    Improving the design of all aspects of courses so that the learning of all students on the courses improves (Section 3)
    Improving the student support systems that underpin all courses, so that student performance and retention is improved (Section 4)
    Improving institutional strategies to improve student learning (Section 6)

    In operating at these different levels my work has progressed from focussing on the micro-level of an individual student undertaking a single learning activity in a specific context, to macro levels involving national and international comparisons of institutional strategies to improve student learning.

    I started working on 'study skills' (Section 1) in the mid 1970's and have worked on institutional learning and teaching strategies in the last decade (Section 6). My work on Sections 2-5 spans three decades.

    Research methodologies I have used include phenomenographic interviewing (Beaty, Morgan and Gibbs, 1997), depth interviewing (Gibbs and Durbridge, 1976a), psychometric development of inventories (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004a), use of existing inventories (Gibbs, 1982), use of evaluation questionnaires (Coffey and Gibbs, 2001), analysis of documents (Gibbs et al, 2000) and the use of management information systems to track student performance and progress (Gibbs and Lucas, 1997; Gibbs and Simpson, 2004b). Research designs include before and after testing of the impact of interventions (Gibbs, 1982; Gibbs and Coffey, 2004), longitudinal tracking of individual students (Beaty, Morgan and Gibbs, 1997), use of control groups (Gibbs and Coffey, 2004) and case-based studies (Gibbs, 2003a).

    I have undertaken and published reviews of the literature associated with five of the sections: Section 1 (Gibbs et al 1982), Section 2 (Gibbs and Gilbert, 1998), Section 3 (Gibbs, 1982), Section 4 (Gibbs, 2003d) and Section 5 (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004).

    Research in four of the six areas has been published in other countries: Section 1 in the USA (Gibbs, 1983) and Sweden (Gibbs, 1996a); Section 2 in Canada (Gibbs 1995d), Germany (Gibbs 1997a), Holland (Gibbs 1999a) and the USA (Gibbs and Angelo, 1998); Section 4 in Hong Kong (Gibbs and Simpson, 2004) and Section 6 in Portugal (Gibbs, 2003e), Spain (Gibbs, 2004b), and Australia (2005a).

    Evidence of the scale of impact of this research is outlined in each section. A citation analysis for the 18 selected publications is included as Appendix 1.

    A selection of 69 of my other publications are cited in support of the account in the sections below.
    Date of AwardOct 2005
    Original languageEnglish


    • learning
    • College teaching

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