Dennis’s thesis was titled Students and Their Learning Journeys: A Study of Failure in an Australian University.
The abstract for the thesis is:
This thesis explores students’ learning journeys in and through units in Higher Education degree courses. The exploration focuses specifically on student learning failure. It does so by using empirical evidence from one Australian university over a two-year period. The argument presented here is that universities can exploit detailed data at their disposal to enhance students’ achievements on their learning journeys.
An information-rich but modest Toolkit is proposed that provides a detailed description of student learning journeys in general, and of failure in particular. The Toolkit comprises an individual student’s current achievement in a unit (Grade); an individual student’s previous semester achievement (Grade Point Average); three failing Categories, namely, Academically Weak, Not Engaged or Speed Bump and two passing Categories, namely, Passing OK or Flagging, into one of which each individual student is assigned after encountering a unit; and the Group Learning Attainment of all students in that unit (an average of all Grades in a unit).
The final Toolkit element concerns Dimensions of responsibility for learning. The Dimensions are Student, University, Course and Lecturer. This thesis suggests that student academic learning failure is an interrelationship of these four Dimensions. An argument is presented that the three non-Student Dimensions can impact negatively on student learning journeys, and are likely to contribute to failure.
Notwithstanding these issues, the thesis concludes that it is possible to support and enhance student learning achievement journeys.
I was delighted to be able to attend the ceremony and see Dennis receive his PhD. I felt part of his family.
I am hopeful that Dennis and I might be able to extend our work. I do think it has immense significance for personalising learning opportunities in education and sport.