learning styles at uni.

(23 Posts)
voilets Sun 04-Dec-16 11:27:02

Am interested to glean information from those that know - how is teaching/learning different between top unis?
Oxbridge, I've heard mentioned do 1 to 1 tutorials - how many? Lectures? small groups - what is the timetable like?
And how different would this be to say somewhere like Durham? or other very well respected unis?

OP’s posts: |
voilets Sun 04-Dec-16 11:29:07

should have said - for Arts/ humanities degrees.

OP’s posts: |
LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 04-Dec-16 14:09:24

Oxbridge do some 1-to-1, but also a lot of 1-to-1 and some small classes. It does vary from subject to subject, but I'd say this is the norm for arts/humanities.

I don't know about Durham, but I would guess it's not very different from Nottingham, York, KCL, etc., where you will have some classes of many 10-15 people, and some lectures of many more, as well as the odd one-to-one meeting (maybe in office hours, or for dissertations).

IMO the differences aren't just do do with numbers, but also to do with the way the subject is taught. For example, some have more coursework and others more focus on exams; in some places you might have quite a bit of freedom to select options and in others, less. That makes a big impact, too.

AtiaoftheJulii Sun 04-Dec-16 16:11:34

Dd doing an arts subject at Oxford has on average two tutorials a week, which are 2 or 3 students, plus some classes.

Other dd doing an MFL degree elsewhere at an RG uni has several hours of language classes.

Both have lectures.

NiceCardigan Sun 04-Dec-16 16:43:19

DS is at Durham doing an arts subject. Tutorials have about 5 people in them, seminars are a bit bigger and there are lectures. There's also a one to one feedback session for each essay.

voilets Sun 04-Dec-16 17:03:06

Really helpful so far. Thanks.

Is there less contact time at oxbridge? Or are they all about 12 hours a week.

Like that essay feedback at durham.

OP’s posts: |
LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 04-Dec-16 17:31:53

More contact time at Oxbridge if they take it all.

In my subject (and I think a lot of Arts/Hums) lectures are optional. You could attend lectures 9-1, Monday to Friday, and a tiny number of students do, but it's not practical. More usually, you might attend something like 10-15 hours of lectures in a week. Then you might have, say, two or three classes, and two or three hours of small supervisions. So your total is probably around 14 hours of contact time, but some of it is very intense.

Even if you bunk off most lectures and only attend one or two per day, your supervisions mean you're getting a lot of attention. You will also get more feedback, because you will write an essay for each supervisor each week, whereas elsewhere you might write two or three essays per module per term.

That said, an issue I know is very common is that students in the non-Oxbridge system don't realise office hours are there for them to use, so they don't realise they could timetable in extra contact time (often, one-to-one) if they took their teachers up on the offer.


FatherJemimaRacktool Sun 04-Dec-16 18:19:35

an issue I know is very common is that students in the non-Oxbridge system don't realise office hours are there for them to use, so they don't realise they could timetable in extra contact time (often, one-to-one) if they took their teachers up on the offer.

Except for the week before an essay deadline. Then, 50 students all want 20 minutes of time in the same 2 hour window. For the other 11 weeks of term, I'm lucky to see one student per week.

LRDtheFeministDragon Sun 04-Dec-16 18:57:21

grin Well, I think that is an issue common everywhere.

I only mentioned non-Oxbridge because, to my knowledge, Oxbridge doesn't run office hours in the same way.

voilets Mon 05-Dec-16 21:01:29

2 essays a week - that seems a lot. Is Oxford definitely meaning more work required?

DD likes sound of History and Spanish combined course. Is worried about pressure!

You do hear scare stories and some student seem to crash out we hear anecdotally around. She was told by Cambridge students on a study day that pace was very fast.

DD very able. DD very organised. DD unwittingly gets stressed through exams it just creeps up on her without her realising it. Results so far very good.

She went to Durham on open day and fell in love with the place. Hasn't been elsewhere yet. Oxford she knows has that bit more prestige.

Her nagging worry - is it all about work and do Oxbridge attract those type of students? She wants a blend of fun and study. She is hard working - but not OTT, sociable and articulate.

Any ideas would be welcomed.

OP’s posts: |
LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 05-Dec-16 21:34:14

The pace is different. But the terms are shorter - 8 weeks as compared to 10 or 11 - so she gets long vacs in which she could do some of the reading.

Also (though this is something students do worry about and don't always find easy to accept, if they're perfectionists!) those weekly essays aren't meant to be perfect. They're trial runs, to provide something to discuss in your supervisions. It's not like a more modular course, where you might be assessed on a high proportion of the essays you write, and where there's therefore so much more riding on each essay.

I think the best thing for prospective students to do is to try to think about how they work best, and what reassures them. Some people hate the idea of writing essays that will count towards their degree without a lot of practice, so for them, Oxbridge might actually feel more reassuring, despite the high number of essays submitted. Other people don't like doing lots of test-run type essays and would find constant feedback demoralising or distracting, and for them, Oxbridge might not be such a good fit.

The other thing to bear in mind is that Oxbridge has very low rates of students dropping out.

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 05-Dec-16 21:37:05

Yes, I think Oxford (and I assume Cambridge) does involve more work, i.e. your two essays a week - you might read one out, and the other one will be read and commented on/marked. But - and it's a big but - there's no continuous assessment. If you have a crappy week, you might have an awkward tutorial, but it has no effect on your degree. At other universities, you might write fewer essays, but the grades might actually matter and contribute a small percentage towards your degree. So swings and roundabouts.

And no, Oxford is most certainly not all about work, please tell her to rest assured on that issue!

voilets Mon 05-Dec-16 21:43:52

LRD - that is a most useful post. Just such a good starting point for my DD and I to talk about.

A really strange question but nags at my DD. Does Oxford feel normal? Or do some constantly feel intimidated by the historical prestige? Are others or most uber confident?
DD on surface is very confident and in most areas that is genuine but her perfectionism ( you very rightly mention it - we name it at home)means she sometimes has a crisis of confidence over an essay!

Not sure if above can be answered - but genuine little worries!

OP’s posts: |
voilets Mon 05-Dec-16 21:49:20

Another very helpful post. Thank you Jill.

OP’s posts: |
voilets Mon 05-Dec-16 21:50:05

julii even! grin

OP’s posts: |
AtiaoftheJulii Mon 05-Dec-16 21:54:50

I think within a few weeks of being there, it feels normal to most people, basically because that's all you know.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 05-Dec-16 21:55:22

Glad it was useful.

Hard to say how people feel. Some people are constantly intimidated. But most people, IME, get used to it all. And even enjoy it. Because when else do you get to live cheek-by-jowl with buildings that look like that?

A friend's DD at Durham felt the same way! grin

I do not think most Oxbridge students are super confident. Some may act confident better than others, but it's hard to be too full of yourself when you know everyone else is good, too. I think that's true of university in general.

Occasionally, you might meet someone in freshers' week, or at an Open Day, who seems to have it all sorted out and who might come across as if everything naturally fell into their lap and only they know how to fit in. And, those people are either the sorts of arrogant jerks you can't avoid meeting in life, or they're just 19 year olds who haven't yet learned how they come across - they're not actually any more likely to succeed than anyone else. This is true of every university I have ever heard of.

I can see crises of confidence from both sides. On the one hand, undeniably there can be a bit of a valorisation of stress at Oxbridge, which isn't great. But, there is also a lot of contact with your teachers, who do have vested interests in helping you figure out how to manage stress and how to stay the course.

LRDtheFeministDragon Mon 05-Dec-16 21:56:20

(Plus, actually, I think I am being too negative. It could well be she stresses at school, but she wouldn't at university - because if she really enjoys what she's working on, the greater freedom to organise her own life and do what she enjoys could really help.)

AtiaoftheJulii Mon 05-Dec-16 22:03:32

It could well be she stresses at school, but she wouldn't at university - because if she really enjoys what she's working on, the greater freedom to organise her own life and do what she enjoys could really help.

This really describes my dd2, who is not at Oxbridge (neither do her course). She's in her first term and I saw her a couple of weeks ago for the first time since she'd gone, and she was the most relaxed I'd seen her for ages smile

voilets Mon 05-Dec-16 22:22:43

Lovely posts thank you. smile

OP’s posts: |
sassymuffin Mon 05-Dec-16 23:05:36

DD is at Cambridge and finds the 8 week term has its peaks and troughs regarding amount of work. She has roughly two lectures per day Mon - Fri (luckily none on a Sat this year). One week she has 2 supervisions and the next week 3 supervisions, there is usually considerable reading needed for each supo and she will get either an essay to write or specific questions to research that is to e completed and submitted before the supo. She has a meeting with her Director of Studies every few weeks.
She will usually have to do a couple of all nighters each term but I think this is avoidable and not recommended at all but sadly seems to happen amongst a lot of her friends too. Week 5 tends to be when the pressure peaks but student welfare try to hold well being events.

There is time for extra curriculars and there are tons of societies to join. Cambridge doesn't really have much of a nightlife with about 4 night clubs concentrated in the tiny town centre and it is quite isolated so can feel a little claustrophobic sometimes.

As the terms are short the Uni advises against any part time work (other than a bit of college bar work) and truth be told it would be hard to manage with fluctuating work loads so this frees time up also.

voilets Tue 06-Dec-16 19:35:05

Thanks sassy.

Are the all nighters because some students don't work solidly all week or is it that a range of deadlines suddenly hit.

Is your DD year 2?

I find my DS in a very high ranking course in RG only copes by missing a few lectures in high deadline time - week 9 and catches up on those by working solidly through easter and christmas. About 4 very concentrated hours every single day.

My DD is too conscientous to miss a lecture i suspect.

OP’s posts: |
sassymuffin Wed 07-Dec-16 09:22:02

voilets Yes DD is in her 2nd year.

The all nighters are probably a mix of all the reasons you mentioned. For DD last year as a fresher I think it was inexperience of prioritising work correctly and not working solidly through the day. This year it has been because of simultaneous deadlines hitting. DD tries to plan ahead and in the week that she has two supervisions she will try to do additional work for the next week. Sometimes if one of her supervisors moves her supervision it can cause chaos with her planning too.

DD has said workload also varies between what you are studying, she is reading Law and says it is often the Lawyers and Medics that do the all nighters because they have very heavy reading requirements but she could be biased.

Occasionally extra curricular things can cause a bit of pressure on her workload, eg she was on the Law Ball committee and in the week of the Ball she was really busy.

She has done the same as your DS and skipped a few lectures if she has a particular tight deadline but she always prints out the online resources and will have a look at a friends notes to catch up.

When DD arrives home she has a lazy three days and basically sleeps and eats and not much else. Mainly during Christmas and Easter break she doesn't work solidly but keeps on top of her reading and travels to London a lot for open days and workshops at Law firms and also to see her boyfriend.

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in