Upping grades? Upgrade’s contribution to the student experience

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Kate Williams, Directorate of Academic and Student Affairs

The topic of the paper

Upgrade, Brookes' study advice service for students, has now been running for a full two years, with the main base in Gipsy Lane, and a presence on all campuses.

Why it is of concern

Independent study advice goes some way towards meeting the needs of many parties: for tutors, it is an additional source of support for students, for students an opportunity for a conversation they may hesitate to ask for from their tutors about how to achieve the tasks set, and for the university it contributes to students having a positive experience at Brookes.

What was done (methods)

Upgrade's data enables us to track patterns of student use, through the semesters, by location, age, School, module, type of inquiry, and more. The data, together with the experience of Upgrade tutors, offers useful insights into the experiences of students as they engage with their academic work at all levels and across the university. Upgrade leads two BSLES projects: the Resit Support Project, and Developing Materials on referencing and critical thinking.

What are the main outcomes

‘Upgrade is the best idea the university could have’ (A happy Upgrade user).

Feedback from students indicates that they experience a great sense of relief at the availability study advice outside their normal teaching contexts. Many students achieve sustained higher grades following advice from Upgrade, and feel empowered to tackle tasks more independently in the future. It makes a direct contribution to retention and progression within Brookes.