To gain an insight into how your students learn

This activity is best done with a small group with two or three colleagues. Separately, ask a group of your students whether they are willing to talk about how they approach their learning. Interview 3 of the students who volunteer about how they approached a particular assignment on one of your courses. It works best if they all talk about the same assignment.

The interview should be around 15 minutes long and focus on how they approached the assignment from the time they received an outline of what it involved to when they submitted it. Focus particularly on understanding why they approached it in the way that they did. What were their intentions in approaching it that way?

With each student’s permission, record the interview. Listen to recording afterwards and make notes about the students’ intentions. Then compare the intentions of the students. What are the similarities and differences in their accounts? How might you explain these?

Meet with your colleagues and discuss what you have each found about students’ intentions. What does this tell you about how your students learn? How might this inform your teaching?

Please note: in interviewing your students, you should be aware that they will perceive you as occupying a position of power. If you have not interviewed in this way before, then it is worth practising with a colleague first to ensure that the questions you have a clear and that you are approaching the interview in a way that will put your students at ease. Please be aware of ethical guidelines for conducting these kinds of interview. Your institution is likely to have some and you can also refer to the ones provided by the British Educational Research Association (see: