Higher Education

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 411–427 | Cite as

Student learning and perceptions of the academic environment

  • Paul Ramsden


This paper examines the effects of the organisation of curricula, teaching, and assessment on student learning and looks at the different demands which different academic environments make on their students. After a brief review of research into learning contexts in higher education, data from a course perceptions questionnaire are presented. The principal dimensions which students themselves use to characterise academic environments are identified. The perceptions of students in six departments at one British university are compared; it is concluded that students in different subject areas see themselves to be studying in markedly different environments. The results also suggest students' evaluations of the teaching and the courses in each department.

Data from the course perceptions questionnaire are supported and amplified by a preliminary analysis of results from semi-structured interviews of students in the six departments. The most important factor to emerge from the item analysis — the degree to which students feel that their teachers provide a facilitant atmosphere for learning — is confirmed. Students' perceptions of their departments and their teachers are shown to exert important influences on their approaches to learning. It is also suggested that a student's perception of a particular learning task influences the level at which he tackles it.


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Copyright information

© Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Ramsden
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Research and Development in Post-Compulsory EducationUniversity of LancasterLancasterUK

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