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  • sarah
  • Sarah Belonging The two students who described staying because they had no other choice both described that they didn’t feel part of the university,that they didn’t ‘fit in’, “I don’t seem very involved with the University to be honest”. A theme that emerged here was one of recognition, that “probably if I see my tutor on the road, he wouldn’t recognise me” . Charlie, on the other hand, who had had doubts but made a positive decision to stay, described that now she could recognise places and people, “I feel better now because now I feel like I know where everything is and I always see someone walking around that I know if I want to stop and talk to them” . All of the students who had no doubts could all describe the time when they felt that they belonged to the university, either through societies, or again, through recognising others “ I think it starts when you walk down the street and you see someone and you go hey … I know them from University and that’s what made me feel like it [like I belonged]” . More background….. Student doubters who had decided to stay There seemed to be a spectrum of reasons why students who had had doubts had decided to stay, ranging from those students that were staying only because they felt they had no choice to do otherwise to those that had made a positive decision to stay . There were two students, Michelle and Sharon, who stated that the only reason they were staying was because they felt that they couldn’t leave because of finances and time. These students described a focus on placements and employment upon leaving. At the other end of the spectrum were two students (Sara and Charlie) that had made a conscious decision to stay and were happy with their choice to stay. There were three students in the middle of this spectrum. One student (Jane), for example, described that she was staying because it was her ‘last chance’ because of her age, but also that she had resolved some of the difficulties that she had had at the beginning of the course and now feeling ‘more comfortable’ here. Key differences between doubters who had decided to stay and those students that had never had doubts. Relationship with personal tutor/staff The two students who described staying because they had no other choice both described having no-one to talk to “I could die next week and probably they will realise next year that I didn’t go to uni”. Of the three students in the middle of the spectrum, two also described having no-one to talk to and one described having one tutor that had been of help. The two students who had described making a positive decision to stay both described having a tutor that they could talk to and who had helped them to stay. All of the students who had never had doubts about being at university all described that they had someone that they could talk to (either a personal tutor or a lecturer). Belonging The two students who described staying because they had no other choice both described that they didn’t feel part of the university,that they didn’t ‘fit in’, “I don’t seem very involved with the University to be honest”. A theme that emerged here was one of recognition, that “probably if I see my tutor on the road, he wouldn’t recognise me” . Charlie, on the other hand, who had had doubts but made a positive decision to stay, described that now she could recognise places and people, “I feel better now because now I feel like I know where everything is and I always see someone walking around that I know if I want to stop and talk to them” . All of the students who had no doubts could all describe the time when they felt that they belonged to the university, either through societies, or again, through recognising others “ I think it starts when you walk down the street and you see someone and you go hey … I know them from University and that’s what made me feel like it [like I belonged]” . Finance Both non-doubters and doubters described struggling with finance. However, doubters also complained that they felt that they were not receiving good value for money. If, for example a lecturer failed to attend a lecture, doubters complained that they weren’t the service they had paid for.

Transcript

  • 1. HERE to stay? Why do students persist and how can we support them to do so?   Nottingham Trent University University of Bradford Bournemouth University
  • 2. Introduction to session
    • Activity:
      • What is learning development?
      • How do learning developers support retention?
    • About our research
      • Why did students have doubts?
      • Why did students stay?
    • Activity
      • How can learning development address the problems identified in our research?
  • 3. Activity
    • What is learning development?
    • Can you come up with a slogan or catchphrase for learning development?
    Vorsprung durch technik Where do you want to go today? Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is… I’m a secret lemonade drinker…
  • 4.
    • 'Learning Development' is an emergent, but increasingly recognised field of practice in higher education in the UK. Those who identify with the term are principally involved in areas of work focussing on student learning, working directly with students and in a consultative capacity with other HE staff. This work has also been termed 'learning support' or 'study skills'. The main aim of LD work is the empowerment of students typically through the enhancement of students' academic practices, such as skills for research; communication; self-awareness; and critical thinking; in order that they may benefit as fully as possible from their experiences of, and life beyond, higher education.
    • (Hilsdon, Ridley, Sinfield, 2008)
    • Learnhigher (2010)
  • 5. Activity
    • As learning developers what do you think you do to support retention?
    12 th October 2009
  • 6. Background & Strand 1 Research
  • 7. Background
    • HERE Project set up as part of the ‘What Works? Student Retention & Success Programme’
    • HEFCE/ Paul Hamlyn Foundation
    • Collaborative project
      • NTU
      • Bournemouth
      • Bradford
  • 8. HERE Project
    • Two strands
      • Student doubters (first years)
          • Higher number of students have doubts than leave
          • Some research into difference between doubters and leavers (Mackie, 2001 & Roberts 2003)
          • Survey conducted at each partner NTU, Bournemouth & Bradford
          • (873 respondents)
          • Actual withdrawals analysed in December 2009
      • What can programmes do to support retention? Looking in particular at practice and examples.
  • 9. Strand One: Student Doubters Student Transition Survey
    • Have you considered withdrawing at any point during your first year?
    • P lease tell us what made you consider leaving .
    • What has helped you decide to stay on your course?
  • 10. Student Transition Survey (March – May 2009) NTU BU Sample Size 656 89 % doubters 37% 45% % male doubters 31% 36% % female doubters 41% 50% Age Slight rise as students age More doubts among younger students Disability 50% 60% Part time 43% 0%
  • 11. Progression NTU BU Sample size 370 52 % withdrawal from this sample 4.3% 3.8% % withdrawal among doubters 8.8% 4.3% % withdrawal among non-doubters 1.7% 3.4%
  • 12. Why did students consider leaving?
  • 13.  
  • 14. NTU course related issues (draft)
  • 15.  
  • 16.
    • Yorke and Longden (2008) – seven factors that contribute to withdrawal
    • National Audit Office (2007) – five main reasons why students withdrew
    • Harvey and Drew (2006) - social integration important to retention
    • Thomas et al (2002) – importance of student services to retention
  • 17. Prior information (NTU)
    • Before you started your course at NTU, did you read any materials to help prepare you for your course (e.g. prospectus, course induction materials)?
      • 88% Yes
      • 12% No
    Was the information from NTU before starting your course: % of students in each group who had considered leaving Very accurate 27% Reasonably accurate 37% Not very accurate 73% Very inaccurate 67%
  • 18. Understanding Differences (NTU)
    • Since coming to university has anyone at NTU explained to you the difference between learning at university and your prior learning, particularly learning since age 16 (e.g. A’ Levels, BTEC)?
      • 52% Yes
      • 48% No
    Do you feel that you understand the differences between learning at university and earlier learning? % of students in each group who had considered leaving Yes, in some detail 30% Yes, a little 38% No 62%
  • 19. Current Course Experiences: Doubters vs. non-doubters (NTU)
    • % is the number of students who agreed or strongly agreed with each statement
    Base = 656 (doubters = 243, non-doubters = 413)
  • 20. Cramers V (NTU)
    • Is there an association between doubting and variables?
      • I feel confident that I can cope with my coursework
      • My subject is interesting
      • I feel valued by teaching staff
  • 21. Current Course Experiences: Doubters vs. non-doubters (Bournemouth)
    • % is the number of students who agreed or strongly agreed with each statement
    Base = 87 (doubters = 40, non-doubters = 47)
  • 22. Why did students decide to stay?
  • 23.  
  • 24.  
  • 25. Focus groups
    • Focus groups May 2009 (NTU)
    • 4 focus groups (1 hour workshops, 13 students in total)
      • Control group of non-doubters
      • Selection of doubters
      • STEM subject doubters
      • Mature student doubters
    • Limitations
      • All students that we spoke to were female.
      • Of the doubters we spoke to, four students were mature students, one student was a mature international student, one student was an international student and one student was a home student with English as a second language.
      • This is not representational of the profile of the total respondents.
  • 26. Focus group findings
    • Spectrum of reasons to stay
    • From positive decision to ‘ no choice ’
    • Key differences between non doubters and doubters
    • Relationship with staff
    • Belonging
  • 27. Belonging: non doubters
    • All of the students who had never had doubts could all describe the time when they felt that they belonged to the university
    • “ I think it starts when you walk down the street and you see someone and you go hey … I know them from University and that’s what made me feel like it [like I belonged]”.
    • “ The more people you know through other clubs and stuff the more you feel part of the University”.
    • “ The second term is when I started to feel more at home because in the first term you are always referred to as a fresher and 2nd term you are a first year student…I’ve got more friends, more like friendships, rather than just knowing lots of people”
  • 28. Belonging: doubters
    • Theresa, had had doubts and still describes herself as having difficulty ‘fitting in’. She has stayed because she doesn’t feel she has much choice.
      • “ I don’t seem very involved with the University to be honest”. A theme that emerged here was one of recognition, that “probably if I see my tutor on the road, he wouldn’t recognise me” .
    • Charlie, on the other hand, who had had doubts but made a positive decision to stay, described that now she could recognise places and people,
      • “ I feel better now because now I feel like I know where everything is and I always see someone walking around that I know if I want to stop and talk to them” .
  • 29. Understanding our findings so far…
    • Why did students give different reasons for staying than leaving?
    • Easier to say stayed because of friends rather than left because of no friends? Easier to blame course?
    • Asking about student persistence is “rather a different order of question” (Barnett, 2007, p2)
    • Students need to engage emotionally with the institution to allow learning to take place (Percy, 2002)
  • 30. Activity
    • How would you address the problems identified in our research?
      • Either through your work with students or with staff?
    • In particular course factors identified such as…
      • Problems with workload
      • Not enjoying course
      • Doubts about choice of course/uni
      • Lack of confidence
      • Academic transition
  • 31. Further research…
    • Consider factors that reduce leaving and increase staying
    • Strand Two: what programmes do to support retention, in particular, looking at practice and examples
    • Use findings to develop a review tool that looks at things we can do that can reduce leaving and increase staying
  • 32. Thanks very much for your time Any Questions?
  • 33. References
    • BARNETT, R., 2007. A will to learn: being a student in an age of uncertainty . Maidenhead: Open University Press.
    • HARVEY, L., DREW, S. with SMITH, M., 2006. The first year experience: a literature review for the Higher Education Academy . York: HE Academy.
    • LEARNHIGHER, 2010. Funding for Learning Resource Development April 2009 Grant Scheme Publicity [online]. Liverpool Hope University: LearnHigher. Available at: http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/funding.htm [Accessed 24 March 2010].
    • NAO (National Audit Office), 2007. Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education . London: The Stationary Office.
  • 34.
    • PERCY, A., 2001. Student Induction: The Psychology of Transition. In P. FRAME, ed. Student Induction in Practice Birmingham: Staff and Educational Development Association, Vol. 113 pp. 95–104.
    • THOMAS, L., 2002. Student retention in Higher Education: the role of institutional habitus, Journal of Educational Policy , Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 423–32.
    • YORKE, M. and LONGDEN, B., 2008. The First Year Experience of Higher Education in the UK . York: Higher Education Academy.