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Research at St Andrews

Centre for Higher Education Research

Centre for Higher Education Research

Life span: 17/02/10 → …

Organisation profile

The St Andrews Centre for Higher Education Research currently consists of 51 staff across 17 Schools and six central University units. The Centre aims to facilitate cross-departmental collaboration in higher education research. The Centre brings together staff interested in conducting evidence-based higher education research to inform local, national and international policy and practice, and to promote a reflective, analytical view of Higher Education activities.

CHER empowers the lifelong learner in each of us. The University of St Andrews' staff and students are a community of actively engaged learners, learning from, and with, one another. In all that we do, we aim to maximize and realize the potential of students and prospective students.


CHER Research Themes



This considers transition phases and their relationship to learning; understanding and supporting learning as a lifelong adventure. Investigated are: life pathways through schooling and into employment via higher education; effectiveness of academic curricula; non-academic activities as learning opportunities; development of transferable skills/employability; the role of culture in aspiration; and views of self which act as barriers to success or which empower. The learner is viewed as a multi-faceted being, for whom successful development depends upon cognitive, affective and social dimensions. The rich spectrum of learners and their differing needs is considered, as is inclusive access to HE. Leaders: Lorna Sibbett & Fabio Arico.

Projects include:

  1. Re-thinking Widening Participation – the “ReWP project”: Laurence Lasselle and Fabio Aricò (School of Economics and Finance)
  2. No mismatch but multiple matching? Developments in graduate work and employment: Shiona Chillas (School of Management)
  3. Ensuring each student reaches their potential: transition issues and transfer of skills: Lorna Sibbett (School of Biology)
  4. Science News and Views: Lorna Sibbett (School of Biology)
  5. What does really make students happy? NSS scores in the light of contextual data: Fabio R. Aricò and Alexandru D. Diaconescu (School of Economics and Finance)
  6. Appropriate Format of Personal/Emotional Support Accessed by Students within the Modern Agenda of the “Portfolio Undergaduate”: Chris Lusk, University of St Andrews
  7. The Social Construction of the Mature Student Experience: Chris Lusk, PhD. Doctoral Thesis, July 2008


The Student Learner

This theme aims to find evidence for enhancement of learning and the student experience through changes in curriculum, teaching methods and applications of technology. In considering learning, we review academic performance and student attitude within specific domains. This theme explores the effectiveness of new teaching methods and ways to enhance the student experience, so that each student can reach their full potential. Leaders: Antje Kohnle & Anita Laidlaw.

Projects include:

  1. Investigation of student use of ebooks: Graeme Hawes (Library), Antje Kohnle (School of Physics and Astronomy)
  2. Inquiry-based learning in a first year biology laboratory class: impact on perceptions of research science: V Anne Smith & Morven C Shearer (School of Biology)
  3. Influence of exposure to graphics-based computer simulation environment on perceptions of computer programming: V Anne Smith (School of Biology) & Ishbel Duncan (School of Computer Science)
  4. Clinical communication training research in Medicine: Anita Laidlaw (School of Medicine)
  5. A new multimedia resource for teaching quantum mechanics concepts: Antje Kohnle, Margaret Douglass, Tom Edwards, Alastair Gillies,  Christopher Hooley, Bruce Sinclair (School of Physics and Astronomy)
  6. A three-tiered approach that uses the process of research to enhance learning in the Solomon Islands: I. Fazey, M. Kesby, A. Evely (School of Geography and Geosciences) and others.

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