Here project impact of doubting on retention


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This short paper summarises the impact of doubting on retention

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Here project impact of doubting on retention

  1. 1. HERE Project (2008 – 2011)<br />Short summary about the impact of doubting on retention <br />Two key features emerged from our research into doubting (2008-2011):<br />Students with doubts are more likely to leave early than their non-doubting peers<br />Doubters also appear to have had a less satisfactory university experience before departing. Those doubters who left had a less satisfactory experience than those doubters who stayed<br />Student doubters<br />Previous research (Rickinson & Rutherford, (1995), Burrows (2010)) suggests that many more students have doubts about being at the right university or on the right course than actually leave. Studies of withdrawn students demonstrate that problems such as incompatibility between the student and the learning experience are often major causes of early withdrawal (Yorke & Longden, (1998), Christie, Munro & Fisher (2004)). Studies of withdrawn students tend to suggest that for many doubts emerged before departure, but there has been relatively little work conducted about doubts before students depart. Between March & May 2009, we conducted a student transitions survey at the three partner institutions. At this point 1/3 of students appeared to have doubts about being at University. Just under half of all students gave us permission to track their progress and in November 2009, the impact of student progression was monitored.<br />When we look at doubting and retention, there are four possible outcomes for a student:<br />Non-doubters who stayed (n=296) – in our study, this was the largest group – around 2/3 of all students did not doubt and progressed to the second year. This group reported higher levels of satisfaction and appeared to be better engaged with the university learning process.<br />Non-doubters who withdrew (n=5) – this was a very small group of students. They often demonstrated high levels of satisfaction with the learning experience. This group was older, and may have withdrawn in response to ‘unplanned external crises’ (Ozga & Sukhnandan, 1998, p 320). <br />Doubters who stayed (n=152) – approximately 1/3 of all students were doubters. All doubters tended to report a lower satisfaction with the learning experience than non-doubters.<br />Doubters who withdrew (n=14) – this was a small group of students. Like doubters who stayed, they reported lower levels of satisfaction than non-doubters. Doubters who withdrew were the least satisfied with the experience of all four groups, particularly about the academic experience.<br />Our evidence therefore suggests that almost ¾ of all students who departed had doubts before they left. Departure did not come as a bolt from the blue, but a more gradual accumulation of factors. That said, most doubters are still at university and so opportunities exist to optimise retention. Our overall recommendation is that in order to optimise retention, programme teams ought to focus on two strategies:<br />Reducing the number of doubters <br />Supporting doubters <br />