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Exploring the concept of 'ideal' university student

Wong, B. ORCID: and Chiu, Y.-L. T. (2021) Exploring the concept of 'ideal' university student. Studies in Higher Education, 46 (3). pp. 497-508. ISSN 0307-5079

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2019.1643302


This paper contributes to our understanding of the ‘ideal’ university student – a working concept that promotes a more transparent conversation about the explicit, implicit and idealistic expectations of students in higher education. Drawing on Weber’s theory of ideal types, we explore university staff and students’ conceptualisation of the ‘ideal’ student. Informed by 20 focus groups with 75 university staff and students, we focus on how the concept of ‘ideal’ student is perceived, challenged and negotiated. We argue that the ‘ideal’ student has important conceptual and practical implications for higher education, especially the importance of explicitness and the dangers of presumptions. The concept has the potential to bridge differences and manage expectations between lecturers and students, which have been stretched due to consumerism, by offering a platform where expectations of university students are elaborated. We present a working definition of ‘ideal’ university student, which, we argue, encompasses desirability, imperfection and realism.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education > Improving Equity and Inclusion through Education
ID Code:84704
Publisher:Taylor & Francis


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