Practical outputs from the seven projects Ed Foster, NTU
Good morning• Let’s get the dull stuff out of the way – Fire drills & exits – Toilets – Refreshments• Introductions• Programme
Workshop outcomes• Better understand the core findings of the ‘What Works?’ Student Retention & Success Programme• Consider your own institution’s strategies for retention & success• Experience & take home resources/staff development activities that can help improve retention & success – Day 1 – learning, teaching, curriculum design – Day 2 – peer-to-peer, pastoral & professional support
Higher Education Academy Student Retention & Success• Retention & Success one of the areas of work for the HEA• Outputs include: – What Works? – Retention research on BME students, male students – 2 compendia of effective retention activities – Literature reviews on retention – http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/retention-and-success
Retention Research (US)• Long tradition of in the US to at least the 70’s• Links closely to work on – Student Engagement (NSSE) – First Year Experience/ transition into HE• Tinto (1993) student retention based on: – Student Pre-entry attributes & goals – Combined with institutional experiences – Leads to Integration (or doesn’t) • Academic & Social
UK Research• Became more prevalent in late 1990’s• Sector expansion and Widening Participation• Yorke & Longden (2004) stress importance of improving retention though – Student-centred approached – Early engagement – Curriculum design, especially assessment – Integrating the social within the academic – First Year Experience – Role of staff
Retention in the UK• Overall, UK good at retention• A high percentage complete their degrees within ‘normal’ time span – Approximately 8% of students withdraw during their first year, and around 78% complete their degree in 3-4 years
Reasons for withdrawal• In the UK, reasons for withdrawal fairly well known: – ‘Poor’ initial choice of course – Dissatisfaction with the academic experience – Personal problems (including finance) – Lack of clear routes & strategies for coping• Some groups are over represented, STEM subjects, poorer entry qualifications, BME students, males, mature students
‘What Works?’ Student Retention & Success• NAO report – Staying the Course (2007) & 2008 PAC response• Sector has good understanding about why students left, less good about what helps them to stay• Paul Hamlyn Foundation & HEFCE jointly funded 7 projects representing 22 HEIs (2008 – 2011)• HEA/ Action on Access appointed as expert reviewers• The primary purpose of the programme is to generate robust, evidence-based analysis and evaluation about the most effective practices to ensure high continuation and completion rates.
Projects• Anglia Ruskin – Comparing different approaches to advice & personal tutoring• Aston (& 8 partners) – Impact of peer mentoring• University of Leicester – Belonging & intimacy• Northumbria, Bedfordshire & Manchester – Dispositions to stay using ELLI inventory
Projects• NTU, Bournemouth & Bradford (HERE Project) – Impact of doubting & course teams• Reading & Oxford Brookes – Different approaches to study advice & personal development• Sunderland, Newcastle & Hull – Impact of student integration• Most projects chosen as they were working on a particular activity & were testing impact
So what’s the answer?• Well there isn’t ONE – Different teams found slightly different issues, partly because of where & how they were looking• Lots of commonality – Belonging – Importance of positive academic experience – Relationships & motivation• But no single magic bullet
Characteristics of effectiveinterventions and approaches
Belonging• One key message from these 7 projects is the centrality of students having a strong sense of belonging in HE; this is most effectively nurtured in the academic sphere.• This puts high quality student-centred learning and teaching at the heart of effective student retention and success.
BelongingStudent belonging is an outcome of: • Supportive peer relations. • Meaningful interaction between staff and students. • Developing knowledge, confidence and identity as successful HE learners. • An HE experience which is relevant to interests and future goals.
Institutional management and co-ordination Student capacity Staff building capacity buildingPre-entry In HE Beyond HE
Practical implications (1)1. Pre-entry interventions combine social integration, information, expectations and skills.2. Extended induction to make friends, get to know staff, understand expectations and develop academic skills.3. Academic sphere: Group-based learning and teaching; varied learning opportunities; real-world learning including placements; guidance and support with assessment; useful assessment feedback; a dedicated physical space; opt-out co- curricular activities; staff organised social events.
Practical implications (2)4. Personal tutoring can be an important source of belonging, development and support, especially if it is proactive, integrated, structured and nurtures relationships.5. Peers have a range of positive impacts on student experience, but this is not explicitly recognised. Some groups find it harder to make friends. Institutions can facilitate social integration in the academic sphere through induction, learning and teaching and opt-out peer mentoring in particular.
Practical implications (3)6. When students experience problems the majority seek advice from friends and family initially. Knowing professional services exist is reassuring, but many do not know what is available. Professional services are accessed more when they are situated in the academic sphere (e.g. personal tutors). They should also provide information to friends and family.7. Students do not always recognise the value of ‘participation’, and need to develop skills to facilitate engagement.8. Staff are crucial to students feeling like they belong. Staff need support, development, recognition and reward.
Practical implications (4)9. Institutions need to monitor the retention performance of modules, programmes and departments, and specific student groups.10. Institutions should monitor engagement and identify at risk students through attendance, participation in formal and autonomous learning, assessment processes and outcomes and staff feedback.11. Action must be taken in relation to individual students, particular groups of students and specific modules, programmes and departments that are at risk or have higher rates of withdrawal than expected.
Strategic implications1. Institutional commitment demonstrated through leadership and institutional documents.2. A priority for all staff; all staff responsible for R&S.3. Staff capacity: through accountability, recognition, support and development and reward.4. Student capacity: through clear expectations, purpose and value; development of skills; and providing opportunities.5. High quality data to monitor curriculum performance.6. Monitor student behaviour.7. Partnership with students and staff.
Institutional reflective checklist1. Nurturing a culture of belonging.2. Staff responsibility for student belonging, retention and success.3. Mainstreaming student belonging, retention and success into pre-entry interventions, transition and induction, learning, teaching and assessment and professional services?4. Primary focus on learning and teaching and academic sphere.5. Developing the capacity of students to engage, belong and be successful.6. Using institutional data and monitoring, and follow up action.7. Students’ feelings about belonging and maximising success.