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HERE Project Interim Report 2008-2009

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Interim report from the first year of the HERE Project (2008-09)

Interim report from the first year of the HERE Project (2008-09)

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  • 1. What Works? StudentRetention and SuccessProgrammeInterim report 2008-9The HERE ProjectSubmitted: 25th September 2009 to inclusion@heacademy.ac.uk.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 1 of 129
  • 2. Introduction1.1.Institutional context The HERE project is a joint collaborative project operated by Nottingham Trent University (NTU), Bournemouth University (BU) and the University of Bradford (UB). NTU is the lead partner. The project team is as follows: Nottingham Bournemouth University of Trent University University BradfordSteering Group Professor Nigel Dr Janet Hanson Professor GeoffRepresentatives Hastings, Pro-vice Head of Academic Layer, Pro-Vice Chancellor Services Chancellor (Steering Group (Learning & Chair) Teaching)Project Staff Ed Foster, Study Christine Keenan, Becka Currant, Support Co- Teaching Fellow, Dean of Students, ordinator, Centre School of Design, for Academic Engineering & Ruth Lefever, Standards & Computing Research Assistant Quality (CASQ) Natalie Bates, Sarah Lawther, Research Assistant, Learning & School of Design, Teaching Officer Engineering & (CASQ) ComputingHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 2 of 129
  • 3. Project Background1.2.Project background, to include: 1.2.1.Aims and objectives 1.2.2.Primary topic/focus and other topics/foci (e.g. academic support, personal tutoring, study skills development etc) 1.2.3.Target group(s) (if any); 1.2.4.Stage of student lifecycle; 1.2.5.Levels of intervention (individual, discipline/department/faculty, institution)The HERE Project aims to research two areas related to student retention:student doubters and programmes with better-than-peer rates ofretention. We are looking to investigate two areas:Student DoubtersIf a higher proportion of students consider leaving than actually leave, what canwe learn from those ‘doubters’ about staying in higher education? Are there anysystematic differences between doubters and leavers? A basic hypothesissuggests that students who are less satisfied with their experience, have doubtsabout being on the right course, or have considered leaving are more likely towithdraw from their programme than those who have no doubts1. Differentstudies have shown that between 21% (Rickinson & Rutherford, 1995) and 46%(Ozga & Sukhnandan, 1998) of students have considered leaving theirprogramme. In 2004-05, 8.4% of UK students did not progress into the secondyear (NAO, 2007). However, researchers (Mackie (2001) and Roberts et al(2003) found differences amongst groups of doubters that meant that manydoubters remained on their courses despite their concerns.The HERE project is therefore targeting first year students to explore the issues ofdoubting:• Are doubters actually more likely to become leavers than non-doubters?1 This may be more ‘normal’ amongst young students. There is some evidence that amongstmature students and those with family commitments, it is often an external crisis (for examplea partner being made unemployed or family illness) that leads to withdrawal (Ozga &Sukhnandan (1998), Quinn et al (2005)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 3 of 129
  • 4. • Are there any factors amongst doubters that appear to be stronger predictors for withdrawing? (For example do doubters who leave have lower levels of satisfaction with course factors, future goals or friendships?)• Amongst doubters who stay, what factors helped them remain at university? What were the most important issues and how can institutions make use of these findings?Programmes with better-than-peer rates of retentionThere is a high degree of variation between the withdrawals rates of students ondifferent programmes. Some are nationally recognised as having poorer rates ofretention (typically STEM subjects, Business Studies etc) and others traditionallyhave very high rates of progression (Law and Art & Design). However withinostensibly similar programmes there are often striking differences in retentionrates. Staff at NTU conducted an analysis of withdrawals amongst first yearprogrammes (2005-06 data set) and within programmes requiring 240 UCASpoints on entry, student withdrawals ranged from 0% to 21%.The second strand of research will seek to explore programmes that appear befrom subject disciplines with ‘average’ or ‘normal’ rates of retention and yetappear to have a higher rate of retention than their peers. We will be seeking touncover any practices that may account for better rates of retention.Our primary target will be on exploring the experience of first year students. Wewill ensure that over the three years we gather data that includes:• Students on STEM subjects• Students from BME backgrounds• Students studying on part-time programmesAt this stage, we believe that the interventions will be at the institutional andprogramme level. Our preliminary feedback from student doubters suggests thatthe social factors play a particularly important role in motivating students withdoubts. If this trend is confirmed when we are able to analyse studentswithdrawals data (October – December 2009), we will be makingrecommendations that institutions consider the manner in which they supportstudent socialisation. The second strand of research (programmes with better-than-peer rates of retention) will primarily focus on academic programmes,HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 4 of 129
  • 5. although we expect that there will be implications that arise for institutions andindividual teaching/ pastoral support.Glossary of termsDoubter – student who has responded ‘yes’ to the survey question ‘have youconsidered leaving university at some point this year’ on the Student TransitionSurveys.Non-doubter – student who has responded ‘no’ to the survey question ‘have youconsidered leaving university at some point this year’ on the Student TransitionSurveys.Retention – We use this word generally to indicate the number or percentage ofstudents who remain at university rather than strictly meaning the number whograduate.Progression – Where we use this phrase we are describing a student whocompletes the first year and re-enrols on the second yearHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 5 of 129
  • 6. 1.3.Evaluation approach and methodologyThe evaluation approach is as follows:Strand A - Student Doubtersa. Pilot Study - October 2008 (NTU only)Targeted at first year students within a larger Welcome Week surveyb. Main Survey March – May 2009 (Bournemouth, Bradford & NTU)40-question online survey actively promoted to all first year students. This wasdisseminated by the market research team at NTU and by the team at Bradfordfor Bradford and Bournemouth universities.c. 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 doubtersInitial data analysis conducted summer 2009, more detailed analysis looking forstronger indicators of key risk factors (see e below)d. Analysis of Students’ Union Leavers’ Survey June 2009 (BournemouthUniversity)6 first year students were surveyed after withdrawing part way through the2008-09 academic year.e. More-detailed analysis of student outcomes Oct 2009 – Jan 2010(Bournemouth, Bradford & NTU)All student respondents who gave permission for student records are to bereviewed to be analysed to identify students who actually withdrew or remained.This data will then be added to results from the survey to identify factors with thestrongest influence over actual withdrawal or retention.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 6 of 129
  • 7. The cycle of analysis is to be repeated in 2010 – 11. There will be an interimanalysis in 2009 – 10 to help modify the research for the final year.Strand B - Programmes with better than peer rates of retentiona) Developing Research Methodology (All)The proposed research methodology is to select programmes with a higher levelof retention than their peers and then to survey the programmes for the presenceof a range of interventions, for example the existence of personal tutoring and itslevel of support within the programme. • Grey literature such as course documentation will be reviewed • A range of programme staff interviewed • Students on the programme will be interviewed or surveyedThe data will be triangulated from the three sources and findings will becompared across programmes to see if there are common practices amongstsuccessful programmes.A draft questionnaire has been developed identifying a range of possibleinterventions. These questions will be developed and we will use the differentiterations to create a Programme Audit Tool for individual programmes to use toreview their own retention practice.Over the three years, we propose to review seven programmes at each institution(21 in total). At this stage we propose to analyse some programmes common toeach institution, for example all three have similar business and social sciencecourses. We will also ensure that some of the programmes are STEM subjectsand will survey part-time courses.We are testing the programme audit tool and are aiming to share it with otherinterested institutions in 2010-11. It is our intention that they will be able tocontribute to its development.b) Pilot study of two nursing programmes (Bournemouth University)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 7 of 129
  • 8. The pilot study of two programmes at Bournemouth University gave theprogramme team some practical experience working with programme staff andstudents and has helped shape the development of the Programme Audit Tool.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 8 of 129
  • 9. 2.Progress2.1.What have you done this year? (Progress against plan, additional activities, dissemination etc)Project ManagementThe project team have been working together since confirmation was receivedfrom HEFCE in August 2008. However, there have been some delays setting upthe contractual and financial arrangements between the three institutions thatwere not fully resolved until summer 2009. This has had a particular impact uponwork at the University of Bradford who, without a subcontract and confirmedpayments, were unable to complete the recruitment process for a researchassistant until August 2009.Research staff were appointed earlier at NTU (October 2008) and BournemouthUniversity (April 2009).The steering group has met twice, June and September 2009, to receive progressreports and shape the future directions of the work. A more-detailed work planhas been developed to ensure that we achieve the project’s objectives.In some respects the project has been able to start quickly. The three key staffhave worked together previously on the Learnhigher CETL. However, the delay ininitial funding and contracts meant that there has been a delay starting theproject. Its effect has been more marked at Bradford University, although we areconfident that we will regain lost ground in years 2 & 3 of the project.Research Management & Ethical ApprovalEthical approval was sought at NTU from the Joint Inter College Ethics Committee(JICEC) for both Strand A and Strand B of the research. Approval was grantedfor Strand A on 23 March 2009, Strand B was approved 13 May 2009.Strand A – Student DoubtersDoubters’ Pilot Survey (October 2008)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 9 of 129
  • 10. At NTU, a pilot survey was disseminated to first year students as part of theWelcome Week2 evaluation in October 2008. 1,059 students responded (16%response rate). The findings were used to shape the Student Transition Survey.Although the questions were aimed at the student experience prior to the firstyear, we have evidence from doubters about factors that helped them remain ineducation.Student Transition Survey (March – May 2009)Students were asked 40 questions about a range of factors such as satisfactionwith elements of the course so far, how hard they were finding the studies, andwhether they understood the differences between studying in FE/ VI form and atuniversity and what made them consider leaving and stay.NTUAll first year students were invited to respond to an online survey. 656 studentsresponded (9% response rate), of these, 37% had considered withdrawing duringthe first year.Four focus groups were then facilitated to garner a deeper understanding aboutthe issues faced by students: • Control group of non-doubters, • Random sample of doubters • Mature students • Students studying on STEM subjectsIn total 13 students participated in the focus groups.The data has been analysed and preliminary hypotheses developed. The team atNTU have arranged for statistical analysis experts from the School of SocialSciences to conduct more detailed analyses of the data.Bournemouth University89 students completed the survey, of these 46% had considered withdrawing.2 Welcome Week is how NTU brands ‘freshers’. It is a collaborative project between the Universityand Students’ Union offering an extended range of activities that goes beyond alcohol consumptionand is particularly targeted at the needs of groups such as local students, international students andmature students.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 10 of 129
  • 11. Furthermore, 6 interviews with students who had withdrawn from universityduring the 2008-09 academic year were conducted and analysed.Students’ Union Leavers’ Survey (June 2009)The team at Bournemouth worked with the Students’ Union to survey studentswho departed during the 2008-09 academic year.University of Bradford128 students completed the survey. Initial findings suggest broadly similarpatterns to Bournemouth and NTU, more-detailed analysis is timetabled for thefirst term of the 2009-10 academic year.At this stage though, we have to be a little circumspect about our findings. Ourdata demonstrates that a number of factors were important in motivatingstudents to stay until May 2009, but not necessarily until the end of the academicyear. We are therefore waiting to access the final data sets for the 2008-09academic years when they are completed at each institution. The academic yearfor data collection purposes only ends at the start of the 2009-10 academic year;final data will only be available to us after October 2009.Programmes with better-than-peer rates of retentionBournemouth UniversityStaff at Bournemouth completed a pilot study looking at the experience of staffand students on two nursing programmes at physically distinct locations. 150students were asked to complete a 10-question survey either side of their firstpractice (November – December 2008). Programme staff were interviewed fortheir opinions about a range of factors associated with student retention.NTUStaff at NTU completed an analysis of the student data set for the 2007-08academic year to identify programmes with better than peer rates of retention intwo academic schools within NTU: Science & Technology & Social Sciences.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 11 of 129
  • 12. The methodology has been written up and shared within the team to allow thethree partners to use broadly similar approaches.2.2.What remains outstanding in your plans for 2008-9 and why?Strand A – DoubtersDue to delays recruiting a research assistant at University of Bradford, we havebeen unable to complete the data analysis for the doubters’ survey. This analysiswill be completed between October and December 2009.Strand B - ProgrammesUnfortunately the process of identifying successful programmes has become morecomplex than expected. The staff at NTU started by analysing programmeswithin the School of Science & Technology and whilst there are programmes thatappear to have a higher rate of retention, they are taught as part of a commonfirst year with a number of other programmes. The team at NTU will thereforework with a different school (Social Sciences) in 2009-10. We are thereforebehind the original schedule, as we’d intended to conduct up to two analyses inthe first year. We have re-scheduled our work and plan to conduct a minimum offour programme analyses in 2009-10. This will bring us back on schedule.An initial analysis of two nursing programmes at Bournemouth has beenconducted. However, once again the delay recruiting a research assistant hasmeant that only a preliminary analysis has been carried out. This analysis haspresented a flavour of the responses from both programmes. The findings havenot been separated into those from the programme with better retention and theone with poorer and are presented here as an indication of the responsesgathered. In the 2009-2010 academic year, responses will be separated into therelevant programmes.2.3.Successes and challenges and implications for future workSuccessesWe have surveyed over 2,000 students to identify how many students haveconsidered leaving their studies. We have detailed information about factors thatlead to students considering leaving and those factors that contribute to staying.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 12 of 129
  • 13. We have extensive information about learning, teaching and lifestyle factors thatimpact on the likelihood of doubting.We are set up to be able to then conduct detailed analysis of those students whoactually withdrew from their studies and be able to compare doubters withleavers.ChallengesDelays starting projectAs stated earlier, the project started more slowly than we would have liked due todelays with the initial contract and finance and then setting up the subcontractsbetween the partner institutions. The delay has been most noticeable atUniversity of Bradford, due to the internal operating procedures.At the June and September Steering Group meetings a revised project plan wasapproved and put into action detailing our work plan, dissemination events andinternal reporting mechanisms. We are now confident that we will deliver theproject outcomes.Better than peer programmesIt has taken longer to develop our methodology for working with academicprogrammes than originally intended. This, combined with the high workloadfrom developing the other half of the project, has meant that we are behindschedule. The programme analysis is also potentially more challenging as thereare many more variables associated with analysing a programme rather than anindividual’s response to the HE experience.Nature of respondentsAlthough the doubters’ surveys have provided us with valuable findings, there areissues associated with the voluntary nature of the responses. Clearly we aregathering data from more-motivated students who read their emails, but may notbe reaching some of the more at-risk students.Different institutional response ratesDifferent response rates to the Doubters surveys have created some issues. Theresponse rates vary between 5 – 10% and whilst initial analysis suggests thatsimilar findings are coming from the different surveys, there is some variation.But if fewer students respond at one institution, are they the more satisfied (andHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 13 of 129
  • 14. therefore happier) or the angry dissatisfied? This makes comparisons moredifficult. In a later section, we have asked for some guidance from the HEAcademy in future years.Repeating research across the three institutionsThe initial proposal has been to repeat the same basic research process at allthree institutions, and whilst we plan to continue with this, it has raised issues,particularly about combining results and developing a coherent set of conclusions.We will work hard to ensure that at the end of the project we don’t end up withthree related, but disconnected reports. We have begun preliminary discussionsabout having a tighter methodology for the Strand B research, but this would bean area that we would particularly value input from the HEA team.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 14 of 129
  • 15. 3.Findings: impact and understandingThis section should be the main body of the report, and should provideinformation about your findings from this year.Key FindingsThis section is split into twoStrand A – Student DoubtersStrand B – Programmes with better than peer rates of retentionHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 15 of 129
  • 16. Strand AStudent DoubtersHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 16 of 129
  • 17. Pilot StudyNTU October 2008In October 2009, all 6,600 new students at NTU were asked whether they hadconsidered withdrawing from their prior courses of study. If they had, or hadactually withdrawn, they were asked follow up questions about the factorsinvolved. 1,059 students responded to the survey (16% of the first year), ofthese: • In total, 23% of students had doubted or had actually withdrawn from their previous programmes of study • 36 students (3%) actually withdrew from their previous programmes of study, citing 52 reasons for actually doing so (1.4 reasons per student) • 215 students (20%) had considered withdrawing from their previous programmes of study • When asked the follow up question, ‘what helped keep you on the course?’ the 215 student doubters cited 337 reasons for staying (1.4 reasons per student)The data was collected anonymously, and although overall the majority of the1,059 had most recently studied a further education course at FE or VI FormCollege, a number of respondents appear to be describing how they hadwithdrawn from a higher education course.Unfortunately as the three questions were asked as part of a much largerWelcome Week/ induction survey, in order to save space, we didn’t students whohad considered leaving why (only those who actually departed), although thisquestion was asked in the main Student Transitions Survey (March-May 2009).HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 17 of 129
  • 18. Student LeaversFigure 1 – NTU pilot: reasons for withdrawal Reasons why students withdrew from their previous studies (prior to October 2008) Survey conducted at NTU in October 2008 37 responses from 36 respondents 30 25 25 20 Responses 15 Series1 10 7 5 3 2 0 Course/ institutional Home/ personal Other Finance factorsThe 36 students who withdrew from their previous studies cited the followingreasons:Course/ Institutional FactorsThe most commonly-cited reasons related to course and institutional factors.Most common were concerns about the wrong choice of course/subject(mentioned 12 times, 23% of total reasons given), for example ‘I was too youngand didnt know which direction I was going so the course was not for me’ or ‘Irealised that I wasnt ready for university at the time and also I had chosen thewrong course for me.’ Lack of enjoyment or interest in the course was mentioned9 times (17% of total reasons given). The third course-related thread wasconcerned with criticisms of the course e.g. ‘the course was a joke’ or ‘there wasa huge lack of organisation, and the research skills module had some verydisorganised lecturers’.Lack of support was mentioned by two students although it was unclear as towhether this referred to academic or pastoral support and from whom.In total, course-related factors accounted for 25 of the 36 reasons (69%) cited forwithdrawing from prior studies. It’s interesting to note that not one of theseHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 18 of 129
  • 19. responses relates to students struggling to keep up with their studies. This isperhaps entirely understandable, we are less likely to see entrants to universitywho failed or withdrew because they couldn’t cope with studies at a lower level.We also suspect that there’s an under-reporting of personal academic mattersand some casting blame onto the teaching staff or institution, for example ‘it wasmultimedia design, it was shit.’Home/ Personal FactorsAs might be expected there were a number of students (7) who withdrew due topersonal reasons such as ‘family problems’ and, possibly the best answer to asurvey in 2009, ‘I was young, silly and I fell in love.’.FinanceFinance was only mentioned by two students as the main reason for withdrawing.Student DoubtersStudent doubters are those students who expressed concern/ doubt about beingon the right course, but continued nonetheless. It is important to note that thereasons these students gave for remaining on their course are not the oppositesof those reasons that students withdrew. For example we don’t see a large blockof responses associated with the course.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 19 of 129
  • 20. Figure 2 – NTU pilot: reasons for remaining Reasons why students remained on their courses despite having doubts (prior to October 2008) Survey conducted at NTU in October 2008 302 responses from 215 respondents 70 66 66 60 50 44 40 40 40 30 20 17 15 11 10 3 0 m s ily ff n er s t y en or ta tio sit ce le m th ct ls m ob er oi ca fa O fa oy na ch iv pr if i & un al pl al tio e e ds rn em qu t iv th to itu en te ga g e st go in s/ in fri th In ne al om n/ to m go m io s/ ro rc d ro at ce te re f ve in f rt an oi tu rt o rm O o ch Fu pp W pp te Su of Su De ck LaReasons for remaining despite doubtingThe two most popular responses were both future-facing and oriented aroundgoals and personal objectives, accounting for 132 of the 302 responses (44%).Wanted to go to universityIn the first, 66 respondents stated that wanting to go to university was a reasonthat they remained on their programme. For these students getting to universityand being a student were highly important motivators, for example, ‘I wanted togo to university, so I stuck it out’ and in some there is a palpable sense ofexcitement ‘I didnt want to prolong coming to Uni!’. We hadn’t expected to seeuniversity as such an important factor and were interested to see how importanta part of the students’ expectations and goals it appeared to be.Future GoalsFuture goals were usually career-related, e.g. ‘Finding a career path that Iwanted to follow’. Some were about achieving the qualification ‘I thought I wastoo tired and stressed to stay on the course as had a 6 week old baby when I satthe A level exams!! But I just went in and sat them as I knew I needed them toprogress.’ Other responses were stated in aspirational, success-orientedHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 20 of 129
  • 21. language: ‘becoming successful’, ‘future plans’, ‘future prospects’ and ‘knowingwhat I would get out of it at the end’. In total, 66 respondents cited future goalsas the reason for staying.Initially, we had grouped all support from other people together, but there maybe more benefit to separating support from the social sphere and professional/institutional setting. We have therefore created two groups: Support from family& friends and Support from institutional staff.Support from Family & Friends44 students mention support from family and friends as a factor in helping themremain at university (15%). 34 of the 44 (77%) responses mention friends and24, family (33%), (many students mention both). Friends appear to include‘peers’, ‘classmates’ and, in one instance a boyfriend. The most commonly-mentioned family member appears to be ‘Mum’, e.g. ‘my mum persuaded mestick it out’.One student noted that they kept going as they were motivated to succeed by‘pressure to not let my family down.’Support from Institutional Staff40 of the 302 respondents (13%) stated that institutional staff played a role inkeeping them on their course. Most responses appear to suggest that thesupport came from a number of staff, suggesting a supportive institutional ethos,for example ‘support of teachers who believed i was capable of passing becausethey believed in me’, fewer refer to a specific tutor, but it’s clear that someindividuals had a very important role, for example ‘my tutor gave me a goodtalking to’. It appears that students are referring primarily to teaching staff, 35staff were described as ‘teachers’ or ‘tutors’ and three, as ‘staff’, there are onlytwo references made to pastoral/ professional support ‘student support’.Determination/ internal factorsThe next group of factors for remaining on the course (40 responses) wererelated to the personal commitment and drive of the individuals. Of these, tenare visceral in their determination not to fail or to quit, for example, ‘I hatequitters! I will always continue it until the end, just to get the qualification and tosay that I finished it!’ Ten use the word ‘determination’, seven ‘motivation’ andone ‘stubbornness’. Although some of these responses are future-focussed, andHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 21 of 129
  • 22. use the word ‘ambition’ we have separated these from the future goals as theyappear to be more about factors and motivations within the student facing up tothe problems, rather than forward looking aspirations.Lack of Choices/ Negative GoalsThere were 15 responses indicating that the students felt they had nothing betterto do, or that the other options were worse than remaining with their studies.These rather fatalistic responses included ‘I had nothing else to do’, ‘no otheroptions’ and ‘didnt know what I wanted to do otherwise’. One appears to relateto family pressure to complete studies ‘The fact that my choice was stay atcollege or find my own place to live’.Overcame the Problem15 students stayed because they managed to overcome the problem that theywere facing, for example ‘overcoming the problems that caused me to want toleave’; some of the problems appeared to be academic related and were solvedby changing practices ‘[I] spent extra time outside studies revising to help boostmy confidence’. It is worth noting that several of the respondents describe howthey had to change their mindset or perspective to overcome the problem ‘I cameto my senses’, ‘because I knew I was just out of my comfort zone’ and ‘I changedmy mind and I realised that the studying wasnt so hard after all.’ It also appearsthat the support of family members, friends and tutors played a role in changingthis mindset, for example ‘[I] grew to like it and had good tutors’.The Qualification11 responses indicated that students felt the qualification itself as a factor thathelped them cope. At least one stated explicitly that this was a route toaccessing university and better career prospects. We have chosen to use theterm ‘qualification’ rather than learning and teaching because the respondentsappear to be describing the acquisition of a qualification rather than the learningexperience. Possessing the qualification is the important factor.Other FactorsThere were a smaller number of responses associated with successful learningand teaching and overcoming the personal problems that students were facing atthe time.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 22 of 129
  • 23. Conclusions from the survey20% of the 1,059 students stated that they had considered withdrawing fromtheir previous studies, 3% actually withdrew.Key findings from the pilot‘College was a means to an end to me and Im glad I sat it out’Withdrawal appears to be primarily about the combination of a poor matchbetween the students’ goals and the reality of studying and their motivation tocontinue (robustness) when faced with an uninteresting learning environment.Persisting appears to be primarily about the motivation stemming from futuregoals and the social/ professional/ familial support made available to students.The institutional lessons from the pilot appear to be: 1) Improve the match between student goals and the reality of the programme a. This may mean engaging the students in discussion about the benefits/ realities of the course and encouraging them to have realistic outcomes b. And creating better opportunities or systems to transfer between programmes for those students unhappy with the experience 2) Improve the social/ professional interaction within institutions a. Friends and the support of individual tutors features very strongly in the survey as reasons to stay. The important point appears to be that students describe their problems/ reasons for leaving as systematic and process-oriented, yet describe the reasons to stay in much more personal and emotional terms. The implication of this first survey appears to suggest that the interaction at the point of crisis, not just the support systems in place is very important to motivating a student to stay.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 23 of 129
  • 24. Student Transition Survey (March – May 2009)The 40-question survey was used at each institution with minor changes to takeinto consideration local factors and a few additional questions were added atBournemouth and Bradford.Response rates • At the University of Bradford, 128 first year undergraduate students responded from a possible 2,500 (5% of cohort). • At Bournemouth University, 89 first year students • At Nottingham Trent University, 656 first year students responded from a cohort of 6,600 responded to the survey (9% of cohort)Aim of the surveyWe wanted to uncover: • How many students have had doubts about staying on their current programme? • Why some students thought of leaving? • Why doubters decided to stay? • Student priorities and satisfaction with their experiences of university, in particular, those experiences that have been shown to affect retention in previous research. • More detail about these students: age, gender, their ethnic background etc, to enable us to find any predictors for withdrawalWe also wanted to gain permission to access these students’ course marks andenrolment status during their time at university to allow us to track whetherstudents who have had doubts become leavers. This survey was also used to findstudents who may be willing to take part in further HERE research, such as focusgroups.About the surveyHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 24 of 129
  • 25. The survey was initially written in SNAP (survey software) by the NTU marketingteam and sent via email to all first year students on 23 March 2009. The surveywas open for a month for students to complete online. All completedquestionnaires were entered for a prize draw to win £50 of Amazon vouchers.Similar prizes were offered at the other two universities.About the questionsPlease see Appendix A for full questionnaire.The first questions asked the student for their ID number and permission to usethe data anonymously for further research. We then asked the student whetherthey were enjoying their course so far and whether they had read any priorinformation about their course before coming to NTU (questions 3-5).The next questions (6-7) were aimed at finding out about the student’sexperiences of their course and university life so far, such as whether the coursewas organised, whether they liked where they were living. These questions werebased on prior research on retention (such as Yorke and Longden 2008, Christie,Munro and Fisher 2004, Willis 1993) as well as findings from the pilot study. Wepresented the student with a number of positive statements about their learningand teaching experiences and their experiences of university life so far and askedthem to rate them on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = ‘strongly disagree’ and 5 =‘strongly agree’. The student was then presented with the same statements andasked to rate them according to their importance to them (see example below).Figure 3 – sample of transitions surveyQ7 Please rate how IMPORTANT the following aspects are to you. Please use a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 = "not at all important" and 5 = "very important". 1 2 3 4 5 My subject is interesting     Q7 My course is well organised     Q7 I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my      courseQ7 My taught sessions (such as lectures and      seminars) are interestingQ7 Lecturers are accessible     Q7 I feel valued by teaching staff     HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 25 of 129
  • 26. Q7 The assessment on my course is what I expected      it to beQ7 The feedback I receive about my work is useful     Q7 I feel confident that I can cope with my studies     This use of two sets of identical statements will allow us to compare the two setsof answers. If, for example, a student rated that they ‘strongly disagree’ that theyfeel valued by teaching staff and rated that this is ‘very important’ to them, is thisa stronger predictor of withdrawal than a student who rated that they ‘stronglydisagree’ that they feel valued by teaching staff but that this is ‘not at allimportant’ to them?Questions 8-10 asked about the student’s prior learning; whether the differencesbetween their prior learning and learning at university were explained to them,whether they understood these differences and how difficult they have found theirstudies this year.We then asked about students experience of learning at university so far; howmuch focus they were putting on academic studies (compared to other aspects oftheir life such as family, part-time work), the grades that they were aiming for atthe end of the first year and on graduation, whether they had a personal tutor,and how often they saw their personal tutor (questions 11-16).Questions 17 asked ‘have you considered withdrawing (leaving) at any pointduring your first year at NTU?’ (see figure 4).Figure 4 – considering withdrawalHave you considered withdrawing (leaving) at any point during your firstyear at NTU?Yes, but I have decided to stay at NTUYes, and I have decided to leave NTUYes, but I havent made up my mind yet about my future plansNo, I have never considered withdrawingStudents who answered that they had decided to stay were directed to thequestion ‘What has helped you decide to stay on your course?’ (Q18). Studentswho answered either that they have decided to leave NTU or that they haven’tyet made up their minds were directed to the question ‘Please tell us what madeyou consider leaving NTU’ (Q19). Students who answered that they have neverconsidered withdrawing were directed to the following question (Q21).HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 26 of 129
  • 27. Questions 22-38 asked a range of questions about the student; their age, gender,ethnic background, course, about any disabilities, accommodation, whether theyhad applied through clearing, whether NTU was their first choice of university,whether this was their first time living independently and whether they were thefirst person in their immediate family to go to university. We then asked students‘how can we improve this survey?’ (Q39).The final two questions asked whether the student agreed to be invited to takepart in future HERE research and whether they agreed to allow their course marksand enrolment status to be accessed from University records during the time theyare registered here and incorporated anonymously with other research findings.How the data was analysedA range of data (both quantitative and qualitative) was provided by the survey.An initial analysis of the quantitative data has been carried out using Excel. Thedata will be analysed in more detail when we have information about thesestudents progression to the second year (after October 2009) using SPSS.The qualitative answers to the questions ‘what has helped you decide to stay atNTU’ and ‘what made you consider leaving NTU’ were coded into themes by twoindependent researchers using the approach described by Creswell, 2007, of a‘data analysis spiral’ (Creswell, 2007, p150). The researchers will continue toanalyse the qualitative answers provided from this questionnaire using thismethod.Limitations of the dataWe currently do not know how many of the students who completed our surveywill progress into the second year. This data will not be available until afterOctober 2009. The themes found in this survey therefore tell us about whystudents have had doubts, and why they have chosen to stay (or leave) but notHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 27 of 129
  • 28. whether these students will eventually become persisters3 (or leavers)4. We hopeto track this data during the duration of the project.Key Findings by InstitutionNottingham Trent UniversityStudent Transition Questionnaire243 (37%) of the 656 respondents had considered leaving during their time atuniversity so far. Of these, 28% of students had decided to stay, 1% had decidedto leave and 8% were still unsure about whether to stay or leave university.Respondent Demographics • 62% of respondents were females, 38% males • 67% were aged 19 – 21, 17% 18 or under, 16% were 22+ • 94% were from the UK, 6% from overseas • 80% classified themselves as white - British, the next largest group was Indian, with the remaining students spread over another 16 groups • 6% stated that they had a disability • 13% of UK students were originally from Nottingham City, 13% from Nottinghamshire, 21% from the East Midlands and 58% from the rest of the UK • 49% currently live in university halls, 15% are in the private rented sector, 14% in private halls of residence, 11% with relatives and 11% in their own home • 64% were living independently for the first timeWhat has made you consider leaving NTU?263 reasons were given altogether by 219 individual respondents (1.2 reasonsper student). The figures indicate the number of times a reason was given.3 Students who stay to complete their degree (put reference for who initially used this term)4 In our overall sample, for example, we have found that 31% of the males who completed our surveyhad had doubts about staying at NTU, 41% of the females had had doubts. Our NTU data from 2004-5however found that males were just over 2% more likely to withdraw than females indicating thatperhaps female students have more doubts but don’t necessarily leave because of them.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 28 of 129
  • 29. figure 6 – NTU transitions survey – reasons for considering withdrawal Reasons why students considered leaving (NTU) HERE Project March - May 2009 (263 responses from 219 individual respondents) 120 112 100 80 60 Series1 38 40 28 26 22 20 13 7 7 7 3 0 Co St Fi Pe Pe Ho O Do La lo u u na r r m th u ck ca rs de nc so so es er bt tio e- nt e na na ic s of n re life l l k/ ab su la in /E M ou p te st cid m iss tf po d yle e ot ut rt iss (a nt io in ur ue cc s/ n al g e s o p ro fa go m m m bl ily al od em s a s tio n & s. ..Course-related factorsThe most common theme mentioned by students for considering leaving theirstudies were course-related factors, accounting for 43% of all reasons given.These included wrong choice of course, a lack of interest in the course andcriticisms of learning and teaching. Several students commented about theproblems coping with the workload, for example ‘the workload felt too much’.Student LifestyleThe second most common reason given for considering leaving (38 responses,14%) was associated with the student lifestyle. Students described factors suchas not enjoying the social life of the university, disliking the studentaccommodation and having problems with flatmates. One student wrote thatHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 29 of 129
  • 30. they were struggling to cope with ‘Really bad flat mates into drugs and partyingevery night. I was unable to get any sleep and my studies were suffering badly.’Financial reasonsThe third most common reason provided by students considering withdrawal wasfinancial reasons (28 responses, 11%). There were also fewer doubters thatstated that they were confident that they will have enough money to completetheir course.Personal Incidents/ ProblemsThe factors included here are broad and refer to a range of different issues thathappened in students’ personal lives including having twins, deaths in the family,personal injuries and problems at home. In total students cited 26 examples ofpersonal incidents and problems.The following two categories could be aggregated giving a total of 35 responses(13%); however, we felt that as homesickness was a distinct factor in its ownright associated with the transition into university, it would be better to keepthem separate.Personal/ Emotional‘Everything was so new and scary, very overwhelming’. The 22 responsesincluded in this category cover a broad range of issues ranging from a moregeneral sense of ‘not fitting in’ to the more serious ‘depression’. It appears thatfor some students there are a number of issues connected to how they felt aboutbeing at university. They appeared to have struggled to develop into the newidentity of being a university student and a number describe being stressed aboutthe transition.Homesick/ Missing FamilyFor a small minority of students, homesickness was a significant factor in havingdoubts about being on their course. 13 stated that homesickness had made themconsider leaving.Doubts about Future Goals‘Future goals/ employment’ is the second-most common factor cited by doubtersto explain why they have stayed. Therefore it’s perhaps not surprising thatuncertainty about how the programme will fit the students’ future needs is afactor amongst doubters. 7 students stated that they considered leaving due toHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 30 of 129
  • 31. ‘doubts about future goals’, for example ‘[I] didn’t know if I was doing the rightcourse or even wanted to be at university’.Lack of Support7 students cite lack of support as a reason to consider leaving. This appears torelate primarily to the academic support provided by tutors and there are threeaspects of concern: problems accessing tutors (‘Most lecturers are not accessibleand you have to take a very long and unhelpful route to even see them aboutissues or concerns.’), a sense of a lack of institutional commitment/care towardsthe individual (‘[a] SEVERE LACK OF SUPPORT FROM UNI AND NO MATTER HOWMUCH I COMPLAIN NO ONE SEEMS TO GIVE A SHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’), and poorlevels of academic support (‘the feedback given from work is most of the timeillegible and in no way helpful.’).Location3 students describe location as a problem, two describe travelling to and fromNTU’s smallest campus as a problem, one, rather more vehemently, cites ‘Awfuluniversity, awful city’ as a reason to consider leaving.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 31 of 129
  • 32. What has helped you decide to stay at NTU?figure 6 – NTU transitions survey – reasons for remaining Reasons why Student Doubters stay at University HERE Project March - May 2009 NTU data 198 responses from 171 first year respondents 60 55 50 40 34 28 27 30 24 20 14 10 7 6 3 0 ed s t ily er it y e ff st r en rs to ta lv th co m rs ym u ac so lS O fa Co ve r/ lf Re o na & ni e pl a ed sf io U s rn s em an nd tie g ut te e/ an tr ie ul it in rs s/ st Ch fr ic to ou al n/ In i ff om go rd C tio lD om to ha fr e a a r in fr ci t tu g s/ or m tin an t Fu n p or er io n ap up p et Fi t up op AdS D S ck La171 students gave comments about what had helped them stay; in total theymade 198 points (1.1 reasons per student).It’s interesting to note that the relative ordering of importance has changed; inthe FE survey, wanting to be at University and future goals account for 44% ofthe reasons why doubters chose to stay on their programmes. There is nocomparable factor to the pull of university in the HE doubters’ survey, forexample no respondent mentions postgraduate studies as a motivator to remain.For the respondents, the undergraduate course appears to be the last stage onthe educational journey before employment.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 32 of 129
  • 33. Differences between the two surveys Order of importance in FE Order of importance in HE Doubters’ Doubters’ Survey (Oct 2009) Survey (mar – May 2009) 263 responses from 215 196 responses from 171 respondents respondents1 Wanted to go to university Support from friends & family ↑2 Future goals/ employment Future goals/ employment ↔3 Support from friends & family Determination/ internal factors ↑4 Support from Institutional staff Adapting to Course/ University **5 Determination/ internal Lack of options/ hard to transfer/ factors cost ↑6 Lack of choices/ negative choices Support from Institutional Staff ↓7 Overcoming the problem ** Other ↑8 The qualification Financial Difficulties Resolved **9 Other Changed Course** In the pilot survey, most problems students described overcoming appeared tobe of an academic nature. None were explicitly about finance. We have used aslightly different set of labels in the HE doubters’ responses: adapting to course/university and financial difficulties resolved. The language used to describeovercoming the problems is broadly similar, but it does emphasise adapting tothe new learning context whereas in the FE survey, the responses appear torelate more to overcoming specific coursework problems. It was felt important tokeep financial difficulties as a separate strand.Support from friends & family55 respondents (28%) of respondents mention friends and family as a reason forpersisting despite having doubts. As is the case in the pilot survey, friendshipsare more important than family support and account for almost 2/3 of theresponses in the group (35 responses or 64%). It appears that support frompeers has become more slightly more important for university students; in thepilot survey the ratios are 57% friends/ 43% family. This is perhapsunderstandable as only 22% of respondents are living in their own, or their familyhome and so are perhaps more reliant upon the surrogate families developed intheir new accommodation. Student responses talk of drawing comfort fromtalking to people in the same position as themselves, for example: ‘talking toHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 33 of 129
  • 34. fellow students who felt the same way I did’ and importantly having the time todevelop more ‘solid’ friendships. One student explicitly talks about feeling morepositive about their life at university after having joined a sports club.Future goals/ employment34 respondents (17%) felt that the benefits to their future goals and employmentwere important in keeping them at university. Most related directly to futurecareer prospects ‘I need a good career with good pay’, but a few appear to beabout a more fundamental issue of identity ‘my goal to become something’.Determination/ internal factors28 students cited determination as a factor for remaining at university. Thelanguage was notably more measured than in the FE survey, for example ‘I havemade a commitment that I should stick with’.Adapting to Course/ UniversityWe coded the ‘overcoming problems’ heading used in the FE survey slightlydifferently to reflect the slightly changed emphasis students place. 27 responsesdescribe how students have overcome doubts by adapting to the institution andthe academic expectations upon them. The language is similar in tone to thefriendship responses, primarily about acclimatising to the new environment andhaving time to adjust, ‘I became more comfortable with the studies’, ‘[I became]familiar with the structure of the course and the lecturers’ and ‘settled in more’.9 responses indicates that this goes beyond acclimatising and they describe likingor enjoying the course, e.g. ‘I enjoy the course too much’.Lack options/ hard to transfer/ costAs with the pilot survey, there are a number of students (24) who have decidedto stay due to a perceived lack of options. Unlike in the FE survey, almost half ofthis group (10) state that finance and the lost opportunity cost of a wasted yearare reasons to continue with their studies. For example one student wrote that‘the fact that if I did leave I would still have to pay my student loan but Iwouldnt have had anything to show for it.’ Some students were resigned to thefact that they needed simply a degree and not completing a programme wouldput them at a disadvantage, and others felt that they were unable to transfertheir credits to other institutions: ‘There are no other Uni’s that I can transfer mydegree to otherwise I probably would’.Support from Institutional StaffHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 34 of 129
  • 35. Most typically, the 14 students described support from their tutors, but fivepicked out student support services explicitly, a higher proportion than in the pilotstudy.Financial Difficulties ResolvedAgain student services played a role in some of the 6 responses, along withadditional money from students’ families and help negotiating with the Universityregarding payment arrangements.Changed CourseFinally, three students had managed to change course and therefore felt that theywere on a programme more suited to their needs.Impact of Student Demographics on incidence of doubtingGender41% of female students had considered withdrawing, only 31% of males had.Age37% of students aged 19-21 had considered leaving, incidences broadly rise withage, 42% doubters amongst 22-25 year olds and 44% amongst 26-45 year olds.Disability36% of those students who declared that they had no disability had consideredwithdrawing (n=595). However, 50% of those who stated they had a disabilityhad declared that they had considered withdrawing, as did 52% of those whochose not to declare.Home location41% of students from the City of Nottingham had considered withdrawing, incontrast with only 25% from Nottinghamshire. Those from the East Midlands andthe rest of the UK doubted at 37 and 38% respectively.UK/ International students39% of international respondents had considered withdrawing, 2% higher thanthe 37% of UK doubtersHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 35 of 129
  • 36. EthnicityNTU uses 18 different ethnic descriptors; the largest of these (White-British) hada doubt rate of 36%, marginally below the average. The highest incidence ofdoubting was amongst the five students of Mixed-Black Caribbean and Whiteorigins (80% doubt rate), but the numbers are so small that they ought to betreated with care. Amongst the four Asian or Asian British – Bangladeshistudents, none had considered leaving. Clearly there is a very broad spread, butat this stage, the small sample sizes for most groups will restrict the usefulness ofthe data.First generation in Higher Education48% of respondents to the survey stated that they were the first person in theirimmediate family to come to university, 39% of them had doubts compared to35% amongst those for whom other members of the family had alreadyexperienced higher education.Student Lifestyle and other factorsRoute to universityAmongst students entering University through the normal UCAS process, 37% aredoubters, amongst those who entered through the clearing process, 45% hadconsidered leaving university. However, this is slightly contradicted as we alsoasked the question ‘was this your first choice of University?’. 38% of those whoanswered ‘yes’ had considered withdrawing, only 31% of those who said ‘no’ feltthe same.AccommodationInterestingly, 37% of students who lived away from home for the first time haddoubts and so did those students who were not living away from home for thefirst time. Those living with relatives were least likely to have doubts (30%),those in private halls the most (42%), other types of accommodation such asNTU halls had doubt rates of 37 – 39%.Information from the UniversityMost students had read the information sent to them by the university beforethey started. 81 (12%) had not though. The rate for considering withdrawingwas the same amongst both groups (37%).HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 36 of 129
  • 37. Accuracy of information from the UniversityThis however was strikingly different, 36 students (5%) found that theinformation was either ‘not very accurate’ or ‘very inaccurate’. Although thenumbers are small, 73% and 67% of students in these groups had doubts aboutbeing at University, against 37% who found it ‘reasonably accurate’ and only27% of those who found it ‘very accurate’.Understanding the nature of higher educationOnly 52% of respondents felt that since coming to university, anyone hadexplained the difference between learning at university and earlier educationalinstitutions. Amongst these students 33% had considered leaving whereas 42%of those who had not been informed about the differences had done so.Furthermore, when asked how much they understand the differences between HEand other systems of education, 62% of those who didn’t understand thedifferences had doubts, against 38% who understood a little and 30% of thosewho understood in detail.Coping with studiesStudents were asked to report how hard they had found their studies on a scaleof 1-5 (1= not at all difficult, 5 = very difficult). Those who reported finding itvery difficult were extremely likely to have doubts (74% of the group). Thoseleast likely to have doubts were amongst those who found it fairly easy (27%doubters). The small group (13) who found it very easy were marginally morelikely than average to have doubts (38%).When asked to report how hard they were working, those working the hardestwere slightly more likely than average to have doubts (38% doubters), those notworking hard at all were much more likely to have doubts (69% doubters) andthe group with the lowest level of doubts were those who reported to be workingfairly hard (30% doubters).Academic OutcomesStudents were asked what grade they were aiming for upon graduation and at theend of the first year. Interestingly, 54% believed that they were going to get afirst class honours degree when they graduated. As might be expected, thoseaiming for a higher classification were less likely to have doubts. Amongst thosewho claimed to be aiming for a 3rd class honours degree, 100% had doubts aboutbeing at university. Only 27% of respondents were aiming for a 1st class gradeHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 37 of 129
  • 38. by the end of the first year and once again, there is a correlation between aimingfor a higher grade and a lower incidence of doubting.Academic tutors/ Pastoral supportThe results are slightly contradictory as 53% of respondents claimed to have apersonal tutor at NTU, but all students answered the question ‘how often do yousee your personal tutor’. It appears that there was an oversight in setting up thequestionnaire and non-respondents should have been moved to the nextquestion. 38% of students who reported that they didn’t have a personal tutorhad doubts against 36% who did. The most common answer to how often do yousee your personal tutor is ‘less than monthly’ and may be partly explained by theproblem with the questionnaire. The small number of students who havefortnightly meetings with their tutors (11 students) report a 27% incidence ofdoubting, 33% amongst those seeing their tutors monthly, 34% amongst weeklyand 38% amongst less often than monthly. This appears to be much lessignificant than we had imagined it might be.Mode of studyThe very small number of part-time respondents (14 students) were more likelyto have doubts than their full-time counterparts (43% compared to 37% amongstfull time students).Academic SchoolsNTU has nine academic schools. When responses are analysed by school, thehighest incidence of doubting was 50% and the lowest 27%.CampusNTU has three academic campuses. Doubt rates were 38% at the main citycentre campus, 37% for the smaller suburban campus and 35% at the muchsmaller agricultural site.Testing Student Satisfaction about the learning environment with theincidence of doubtingAll students were asked to evaluate the importance of 17 academic and studentlifestyle factors, for example ‘I have enthusiastic lecturers’. They were then alsoHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 38 of 129
  • 39. asked to what extent they agreed with the statement on a scale of 1 – 5 (1 –disagree strongly, 5 – agree strongly). In the next section we describe thisagreement as ‘satisfaction’ with the experience. Whilst strictly, we askedstudents ‘how much did you agree’, not ‘how much are you satisfied’, we feel thatusing the term ‘satisfaction’ makes the next section more readable than ‘theextent to which the participant agreed with the statement’.Figure 7 - NTU Student Satisfaction compared to Experience– all studentsig My subject is interesting 85% 91% Completing my degree will help me achieve future goals 86% 89% I have easy acess to University resources 82% 87%On average My family is supportive 83% 84% I have enthusiastic lecturers 67% 83% Im confident that I can cope with my studies 63% 82% My course is well organised 59% 81% Feedback on my work is useful 57% 81% 59% Agree My taught sessions are interesting 80% Importance Lecturers are accessible 66% 77% Ill have enough money to finish my course 47% 74% I like where I am living 59% 74% I have an enjoyable social life 74% 73% My fellow students are supportive 70% 68% I know where to go if I have a problem 50% 68% Assessment on my course is what I expected 60% 68% I feel valued by teaching staff 49% 67% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%In 15 of the 17 areas, students report a higher importance than satisfaction.Satisfaction is, on average, 12% lower than importance for this group of allstudents.For example, in response to the statement ‘My subject is interesting’, 91% of allstudents report that it’s important that the subject is interesting and 85%, reportthat their subject has been interesting so far. The two areas where studentsindicate a higher level of satisfaction than importance are against the measures ‘Ihave an enjoyable social life’ and ‘my fellow students are supportive’. It is alsointeresting to note that this phenomenon is almost repeated in a third area ‘myfamily is supportive’; 83% of students report that their family is supportive and84%, that having a supportive family is important. These differences betweenthe importance and satisfaction about social factors are repeated in both thedoubters and non-doubters results.We would tentatively suggest that this strengthens the case for moreconsideration to the importance of social and lifestyle factors within institutions.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 39 of 129
  • 40. The largest gaps between importance and satisfaction are those associated withhaving enough money (27%), quality of feedback (24%) and course organisation(22%).Non-Doubters413 students (63%) reported that they had not considered withdrawing fromtheir course. We found that across all measures they had rated both importanceand satisfaction more highly than doubters. Also the gap between importanceand experience was relatively low, on average only 8%.Figure 8 - NTU Student Satisfaction compared to Experience– non-doubters My subject is interesting 92% 94% Completing my degree will help me achieve future goals 91% 92% I have easy acess to University resources 84% 90% My family is supportive 88% 85% I have enthusiastic lecturers 75% 85% Im confident that I can cope with my studies 78% 88% My course is well organised 66% 83% Feedback on my work is useful 64% 84% 68% Agree My taught sessions are interesting 83% Importance Lecturers are accessible 74% 79% Ill have enough money to finish my course 55% 76% I like where I am living 65% 75% I have an enjoyable social life 81% 73% My fellow students are supportive 77% 71% I know where to go if I have a problem 55% 69% Assessment on my course is what I expected 67% 72% I feel valued by teaching staff 58% 71% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%The largest gaps between importance and satisfaction were the same as for thegroup as a whole: money (21%), quality of feedback (20%) and courseorganisation (17%).Student DoubtersDoubters have lower scores in both importance and actual satisfaction.Furthermore the gap between importance and satisfaction is much larger (21%difference). We might expect a lower level of satisfaction, but it’s interesting tosee a lower score on importance too. This suggest a level of semi-detachedness,HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 40 of 129
  • 41. that students don’t feel as invested in their experience as their non-doubtingpeers, or may reflect that students were feeling more negative about theexperience and so found it harder to score anything highly.Figure 9 - NTU Student Satisfaction compared to Experience – Doubters My subject is interesting 73% 86% Completing my degree will help me achieve future goals 77% 83% I have easy acess to University resources 78% 84% My family is supportive 76% 82% I have enthusiastic lecturers 53% 78% Im confident that I can cope with my studies 39% 73% My course is well organised 48% 79% Feedback on my work is useful 44% 76% Agree My taught sessions are interesting 43% 75% Important Lecturers are accessible 54% 74% Ill have enough money to finish my course 33% 70% I like where I am living 49% 72% I have an enjoyable social life 61% 72% My fellow students are supportive 58% 65% I know where to go if I have a problem 40% 67% Assessment on my course is what I expected 46% 61% I feel valued by teaching staff 34% 60% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%The largest gaps have a slightly different ordering. Once again money is thelargest (37%), but second is confidence that students can cope (34%) and twofactors are joint 3rd with a 32% gap: feedback and interesting sessions.Some analysis of the impact of satisfaction on propensity to have doubtsWhen each of the 17 factors are analysed, it is very apparent that if a studentrates the experience more negatively, they are more likely to be a doubter.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 41 of 129
  • 42. For example, 63% of students who disagreed with the statement ‘my course iswell organised’ had doubts about being at university. 40% of those whoanswered neutrally had doubts and only 30% who answered the statementpositively were doubters. Therefore those students who answered the questionnegatively, were more than twice as likely to have considered withdrawing fromuniversity.On average across all 17 statements: • 63% of students who disagreed with a statement were likely to be doubters • 45% of students who answered neutrally were doubters • 30% of students who answered positively were doubtersThere appears to be therefore a relationship between a poorer level of satisfactionand having doubts; whilst this is clearly stating the obvious, it’s interesting to seethe actual numerical difference.However, some individual factors appear to have a stronger impact on thelikelihood of having doubts. For example, 93% of those students who do not findtheir subject interesting are doubters, whereas only 53% of students who do notknow where to go if they have a problem have doubts.The relationship between factors are in the table below. It’s interesting to notethat those connected to interest in the subject and the learning process, ameaningful relationship with academic staff (accessible lecturers, feeling valued)and future goals have a stronger impact on doubting. Those factors associatedwith having a poorer quality of social life, resources or feedback do not have astrong impact on doubting. That’s not to say these factors aren’t important, butthat having a poor quality of experience is not significantly more likely to make astudent have doubts.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 42 of 129
  • 43. Figure 10 NTU the relationship between satisfaction and dissatisfaction with theindividual factors and the impact on doubting, ranked in order of respondentswho DISAGREED with the statement and were doubters % of % of % of respondents respondents responden who who were ts who disagreed neutral agreed with this about this with this statement statement statement who were who were who were doubters doubters doubters My subject is interesting 93 56 32 I feel confident I can cope with my 78 54 23 studies Lecturers are accessible 71 42 30 Completing my degree will help me 67 57 33 achieve future goals I feel valued by teaching staff 66 37 26 My taught sessions are interesting 65 48 27 My course is well organised 63 40 30 Assessment on my course is what I 63 42 29 expected I have enthusiastic lecturers 62 49 30 I have enough money to finish my 59 34 26 course I have an enjoyable social life 58 51 31 My family is supportive 57 51 34 Feedback on my work is useful 57 43 29 I have easy access to university 56 41 35 resources My fellow students are supportive 56 49 31 I like where Im living 53 39 31 I know where to go if I have a 53 37 30 problemHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 43 of 129
  • 44. Figure 11 NTU - Relationship between satisfaction and dissatisfaction with theindividual factors and the impact on doubting, ranked in order of respondentswho AGREED with the statement and were doubters % of % of % of respondents respondents respondent who who were s who disagreed neutral agreed with this about this with this statement statement statement who were who were who were doubters doubters doubters I feel confident I can cope with my 78 54 23 studies I feel valued by teaching staff 66 37 26 I have enough money to finish my 59 34 26 course My taught sessions are interesting 65 48 27 Assessment on my course is what I 63 42 29 expected Feedback on my work is useful 57 43 29 Lecturers are accessible 71 42 30 My course is well organised 63 40 30 I have enthusiastic lecturers 62 49 30 I know where to go if I have a 53 37 30 problem I have an enjoyable social life 58 51 31 My fellow students are supportive 56 49 31 I like where Im living 53 39 31 My subject is interesting 93 56 32 Completing my degree will help me 67 57 33 achieve future goals My family is supportive 57 51 34 I have easy access to university 56 41 35 resourcesWhen the results are ranked by the impact of agreeing with the statement ondoubting, the results are not simply inverted.Only 23% of students who agreed with the statement, ‘I feel confident I can copewith my studies’ identified themselves as doubters. In other words students whoare confident that they can cope have a very low incidence of doubting whencompared to any other risk factor.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 44 of 129
  • 45. Whilst not finding the subject interesting is more likely to lead to a studentdoubting, finding it very interesting does not appear to lead to a significantlylower incidences of doubting. There are 13 other factors that students agreedwith a lower level of doubting. It may be that an interesting subject is a hygienefactor.Those factors that, when answered positively, lead to a lower incidence ofdoubting related to: confidence coping, some aspects of learning and teaching(feeling valued and interesting taught sessions) and having enough money tocope.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 45 of 129
  • 46. Student Transition SurveyBournemouth UniversityStudent Transition Questionnaire46% of the 89 respondents had considered leaving during their time at universityso far. Of these, 38% of students had decided to stay and 8% were still unsureabout whether to stay or leave university.Respondent Demographics • 89 first year students (enrolled as first year students in 08-09) responded to the survey overall. • 70% female; 30% malesAge range: • 16-18: 11% • 19-21: 61% • 22-25: 10% • 26-45: 16% • 46+: 2% • 92% UK; 8% international/EU • Of the UK students, 62% were from Dorset/Hampshire/South West; 38% from rest of the UK • The majority classified themselves as White: • 93% White • 2% Asian • 1% Mixed • 1% Other • 2% Unspecified • 11% said they have a disability; 3% did not wish to declare • 42% currently live in Bournemouth Halls of residence • 15% live in private halls of residence • 21% live in private rented/shared houses • 12% live with their parents • 10% live in their own homesHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 46 of 129
  • 47. • 59% said this was their first time living independentlyStudent profile – Study • 84% applied through the standard UCAS process; 8% through clearing; 7% applied directly to Bournemouth University and 1% transferred from another university midway through the first term • 87% said that Bournemouth had been their first choice of University, whilst 13% named other institutions as their first choice • 55% said they were the first person in their immediate family to go to university • 78% undergraduate (BA/BSc), 10% undergraduate (LLB), 4% foundation and 8% diploma/advanced diploma • 97% full time; 1% part time, 2% part time distance learningAcademic Schools27% The Business School16% School of Conservation Sciences10%Design, Engineering and Computing19%School of Health and Social Care12%The Media School16%The School of Services ManagementWhat made students consider leaving?• Wrong choice of course/not happy with course• Financial reasons• Homesickness – missing friends and family• Personal problems• Disheartened by assignment marks• Managing workload• Feeling alone/not getting on with housemates at universityHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 47 of 129
  • 48. • Not adjusting well to university lifeStudent quotes:‘The course is very, very challenging, and my grades are always disappointing tome, no matter how hard I work. I think I would feel better about these is I gotsome personal feedback in detail from my marking lecturers. I am aware that thecourse is of an excellent quality but I feel that there is not enough time to learneverything needed and it is difficult to balance time proportionately. I feel like thecourse is not tailored enough to individual requirements and interests whichmight give me more of a focus to my learning. I find my work more stressful thanenjoyable’‘The pure lack of organisation and communication across the school. The lack ofconsistency with lecturers and the fact that there does not appear to be anappropriate level of support for first year students’‘Just dont really enjoy uni. Find it hard to be away from home, friends andfamily’‘Course seemed a bit pointless at times’‘It was a bit overwhelming at the start and I questioned whether I should be atuniversity at all’‘I panicked due to the fact that bursary is hard to live off, to pay bills rent andfood’‘I find my course interesting but struggle with what exactly we should be lookingat during independent work and how much to do, which in turn makes me feellike I’m not achieving’‘I find that some lecturers arent very helpful and don’t reply to emails etc. whenyou ask for their help and arent very encouraging’What has helped students decide to stay at Bournemouth University?• Ambition to achieve future goals – determination and perseveranceHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 48 of 129
  • 49. • Friends (both at home and university) / flatmates / course mates• Receiving help and support from the university and lecturers• Interesting course• Family• Well structured workload• Getting good grades for assignments done so far• Personal tutorialsStudent Quotes:‘It is a course that I really wanted to do, and even though it has been hardsometimes I know that in the end it is definitely worth it’‘Support from family and friends has really helped me. Also achieving the gradesI am has given me the confidence boost I needed’‘My determination and the support of friends, family and my personal tutor’‘Friends and also considering the alternatives if I was to leave’‘Being here I have received all the help and support Ive needed and more, thishas made me want to continue and see the degree through to the end!’‘Friends and realising the importance of finishing my degree’HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 49 of 129
  • 50. Current course experiences: doubters vs. non-doubtersOverall, non-doubters appear to have had more positive course experiences sofar than doubters, for example, having confidence to cope with coursework andknowing where to go for help. Doubters, however, did experience marginallymore support from family and fellow students than the non-doubters.Figure 12 – Bournemouth – difference between importance & experience – allstudents Completing my degree w ill help me achieve future goals (e.g. career) 96% 85% My subject is interesting 96% 70% I have easy access to university resources e.g. computers, library books 91% that I need) 68% My family is supportive 85% 88% I like the house/flat/halls that I am living in 74% 65% My fellow students are supportive 74% 75% I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course 74% 45% I have an enjoyable social life 72% 75% Non-doubters I feel confident that I can cope w ith my coursew ork 72% 45% Doubters I w ould know w here to go w ithin the university if I had a problem 70% 45% Lecturers are accessible 68% 63% My taught sessions(such as lectures, seminars) are interesting 66% 53% I am confident that I w ill have enough money to complete my course 64% 48% The assessment on my course is w hat I expected it to be 64% 43% The feedback I receive about my w ork is useful 55% 48% My course is w ell organised 49% 35% I feel valued by teaching staff 45% 33% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%Important course factors: doubters vs. non-doubtersThere were mixed differences between the factors that doubters and non-doubters felt were important. Non-doubters, for example, felt it was moreimportant that lecturers are accessible and enthusiastic, and that the course iswell organised. Doubters, in contrast, placed higher importance on receivinguseful feedback about their work and liking where they live.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 50 of 129
  • 51. Figure 13 – Bournemouth – difference between importance & experience – all students Completing my degree w ill help me achieve future goals (e.g. career) 96% 93% I am confident that I w ill have enough money to complete my course 91% 88% I have an enjoyable social life 72% 73% I like the house/flat/halls that I am living in 72% 80% I w ould know w here to go w ithin the university if I had a problem 87% 83% I have easy access to university resources e.g. computers, library books 94% that I need) 98% My family is supportive 79% 80% My fellow students are supportive 64% 68% 89% Non-doubters I feel confident that I can cope w ith my course w ork 90% Doubters The feedback I receive about my w ork is useful 89% 95% The assessment on my course is w hat I expected it to be 66% 68% I feel valued by teaching staff 72% 70% Lecturers are accessible 91% 75% My taught sessions (such as lectures, seminars) are interesting 96% 95% I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course 98% 90% My course is w ell organised 98% 90% My subject is interesting 100% 98% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%Comparing experience with expectations: Non-DoubtersThere are big differences between some of the non-doubter’s experiences andexpectations, such as organisation of the course and useful feedback on theirwork. Important aspects were matched by experience for non-doubters in relationto completing their degree to achieve future goals and having an enjoyable sociallife.Figure 14– Bournemouth – difference between importance & experience – non-doubters Completing my degree w ill help me achieve future goals (e.g. career) 96% 96% My subject is interesting 96% 100% I have easy access to university resources e.g. computers, library 91% books that I need) 94% My family is supportive 85% 79% I like the house/f lat/halls that I am living in 74% 72% My fellow students are supportive 74% 64% I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course 74% 98% I have an enjoyable social life 72% 72% 72% Agree I feel conf ident that I can cope w ith my coursew ork 89% Importance I w ould know w here to go w ithin the university if I had a problem 70% 87% Lecturers are accessible 68% 91% My taught sessions(such as lectures, seminars) are interesting 66% 96% I am confident that I w ill have enough money to complete my course 64% 91% The assessment on my course is w hat I expected it to be 64% 66% The feedback I receive about my w ork is useful 55% 89% My course is w ell organised 49% 98% I feel valued by teaching staff 45% 72% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%Comparing experience with expectations: DoubtersHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 51 of 129
  • 52. Similar to the non-doubters, the doubters’ biggest difference between importanceand experience was their course being well organised. There is also a large gapbetween the importance of receiving useful feedback compared to their actualexperience of receiving useful feedback.Figure 15– Bournemouth – difference between importance & experience – Doubters Completing my degree w ill help me achieve future goals (e.g. career) 85% 93% My subject is interesting 70% 98% I have easy access to university resources e.g. computers, library 68% books that I need) 98% My family is supportive 88% 80% I like the house/flat/halls that I am living in 65% 80% My fellow students are supportive 75% 68% I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course 45% 90% I have an enjoyable social life 75% 73% Agree I feel confident that I can cope w ith my coursew ork 45% 90% Importance I w ould know w here to go w ithin the university if I had a problem 45% 83% Lecturers are accessible 63% 75% My taught sessions(such as lectures, seminars) are interesting 53% 95% I am confident that I w ill have enough money to complete my course 48% 88% The assessment on my course is w hat I expected it to be 43% 68% The feedback I receive about my w ork is useful 48% 95% My course is w ell organised 35% 90% I feel valued by teaching staff 33% 70% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 52 of 129
  • 53. Focus groups (NTU)May 2009A selection of students who had agreed to take part in further research in theHERE Transition Survey were contacted by email and invited to take part in afocus group to talk more about their experiences. These students were selectedfrom the groups who had doubts, but remained and those who had not doubtedin the first place. Participants were given a £15 Tesco voucher at the end of thesession.Structure of groupsFour structured ‘group’ activities were facilitated • 1 non-doubters control group – 6 students • Three focus groups of student doubters who had decided to stay5 (6 participants in total) • Furthermore, one student contacted us to ask if they could speak to us individually and so was interviewed.Limitations of dataAll students that we spoke to were female (no males replied to our emails). Fourstudents were mature students, one student was a mature international student,one student was an international student and one student was a home studentwith English as a second language. This is therefore not representational of theprofile of the total respondents. The initial themes emerging from these twogroups are discussed here. All names have been anonymised.Student doubters who had decided to stayThere seemed to be a spectrum of reasons why students who had had doubts haddecided to stay, ranging from those students that were staying only because theyfelt they had no choice to do otherwise to those that had made a positive decisionto stay.5 We didn’t contact students who had stated that they were still not sure about whether to stay atuniversity.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 53 of 129
  • 54. There were two students, Michelle and Sharon, who stated that the only reasonthey were staying was because they felt that they couldn’t leave because offinances and time. These students described a focus on placements andemployment upon leaving.At the other end of the spectrum were two students (Sara and Charlie) that hadmade 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), forexample, described that she was staying because it was her ‘last chance’ becauseof her age, but also that she had resolved some of the difficulties that she hadhad at the beginning of the course and now feeling ‘more comfortable’ here.Key differences between doubters who had decided to stay and thosestudents that had never had doubts.Relationship with personal tutor/staffThe two students who described staying because they had no other choice bothdescribed having no-one to talk to “I could die next week and probably they willrealise next year that I didn’t go to uni”. Of the three students in the middle ofthe spectrum, two also described having no-one to talk to and one describedhaving one tutor that had been of help. The two students who had describedmaking a positive decision to stay both described having a tutor that they couldtalk to and who had helped them to stay.All of the students who had never had doubts about being at university alldescribed that they had someone that they could talk to (either a personal tutoror a lecturer).BelongingThe two students who described staying because they had no other choice bothdescribed that they didn’t feel part of the university,that they didn’t ‘fit in’, “Idon’t seem very involved with the University to be honest”. A theme thatHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 54 of 129
  • 55. emerged here was one of recognition, that “probably if I see my tutor on theroad, he wouldn’t recognise me”.Charlie, on the other hand, who had had doubts but made a positive decision tostay, described that now she could recognise places and people, “I feel betternow because now I feel like I know where everything is and I always seesomeone 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 feltthat they belonged to the university, either through societies, or again, throughrecognising others “I think it starts when you walk down the street and you seesomeone and you go hey … I know them from University and that’s what mademe feel like it [like I belonged]”.FinanceBoth non-doubters and doubters described struggling with finance. However,doubters also complained that they felt that they were not receiving good valuefor money. If, for example a lecturer failed to attend a lecture, doubterscomplained that they weren’t receiving the service they had paid for andcompared the service to that their friends were receiving.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 55 of 129
  • 56. Bournemouth UniversityStudent Leavers’ SurveyJune 2009BackgroundThe past experience of Bournemouth University’s Students’ Union (BUSU) hasshown that involvement in community and volunteering work (BournemouthUniversity Students’ Union Leadership Programme) can be a real motivatingfactor for students, not only enhancing their personal development but alsoproviding opportunities to meet new people. The Student’s Union evaluated theinvolvement of students in voluntary and community activities over the past fouryears. Results highlighted the positive impact such involvement can have. Forexample:It was the main reason I stayed at uni. I had actually considered leaving before Idid it – it gave me a great way to make new friends and do something other thanmy coursework that was worthwhile.I remember sitting in my room in the student village and thinking ‘I haven’t metanyone. I can’t do this’. Champs gave me something to do with my time andgave me the opportunity to meet people and do something helpful at the sametime. I really was going to go back before I came up (to the SU).Therefore it was decided to survey student leavers to identify whether or notparticipation in such activities might have helped students who withdrew toremain. In particular feedback on the impact of the Leadership Programme andSpeed Meet events were tested.Student leavers (first year students in the 08-09 academic year) were contactedapproximately 4 months after they departed and were invited to complete anonline survey. Unfortunately mid-way through the survey process the staffmember left the university and consequently the planned follow-ups to improveresponse rates to the survey were not undertaken and this work is more limitedthan originally intended.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 56 of 129
  • 57. Sample profileA total of 6 students completed the first year experience survey, all of whom leftuniversity between 4 and 10 weeks after their arrival. The students were agedbetween 18 and 23 and all of them had studied at Talbot Campus in their firstyear. The students were enrolled on courses in three academic schools, and livedin a variety of accommodation types.Reasons for leaving universityWhen asked to list their three main reasons for leaving in order of importance,four participants responded. The most common reasons cited werehomesickness, a lack of money and living in a Uni-let were the most importantreasons that caused the students to withdraw. Course related issues featuredmore prominently as a second factor, where courses had differed to studentexpectation or they had not enjoyed their chosen course. One student "hated thelifestyle" and named this as a second influential factor. Third reasons for leavingincluded being unhappy in a flat, the Bournemouth nightlife and homesicknessagain.Use of spare timeTo gain an indication of the students’ involvement in university life, theparticipants were asked what they did when they were not in lectures orseminars, what they did in their free time and who they spent their time with.Four students responded to these questions, two of whom spent their time oncampus between lectures, either wandering around with friends and people fromtheir course or relaxing in the food hall and Dylan’s Bar. One respondent chose tostudy at home in their spare time or go into town with friends; another studentjust stayed at home.Involvement in Students’ Union activitiesFour students answered questions relating to the Students’ Union atBournemouth University. All four participants confirmed that they knew about theStudents’ Union whilst they were studying at university and two of them hadactually visited the Students’ Union offices during their time there. Twoparticipants knew about the SUBU Leadership Programme and one person knewof SUBU Speed Meet. None of the students, however, chose to take part in theseactivities and no-one knew about the SUBU Leadership taster sessions. Reasonsfor not participating in these activities included not knowing about them, beinginterested in other activities that clashed with the Students’ Union programmesand not having anyone to go to such activities with.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 57 of 129
  • 58. Of the students who were unaware of the SU activities available to them, two saidthat they would have considered taking part if they had known about theactivities as it would have provided the chance to meet new people and wouldhave given them something to spend their time on. One student claimed thatbeing aware of the activities would not have made any difference, stating ‘it’s notmy sort of thing’.FriendshipsFour out of the six participants answered questions relating to friendships atuniversity. Before joining university, all four students considered making newfriends as important to them. One student explained that they felt it wasimportant to make new friends to make the experience more enjoyable. It wasconsidered both ‘quite important’ and ‘very important’ by the majority ofparticipants to make one or a few close friends at university. In addition, thestudents also felt that it was important to make a few causal friendships. Withregard to the type of friendships made, there was mixed opinion as to whether itwas important to have friends that were like themselves or different from them.Most, however, believed it was quite important to have lots of different friends.After joining university in September, two of the students considered that theyhad made the friends they had intended to, commenting that they had madefriends with a variety of different people. In contrast, another two studentsbelieved they had not made the friends they would have liked to, expressing thatthey had not made any close friendships. Those students who were successful inmaking their intended friendships highlighted three main reasons that enabledthem to do so – taking part in social events, talking to other students in the firstfew lessons or enrolment; and living with a large number of other people. Thosestudents that did not make the friendships they had wanted felt that a number ofpractical and personal reasons had prevented them. Such factors included ‘notbeing aware of all the opportunities that were available to meet people’, ‘living ina Uni-let property’ and personal feelings of ‘shyness’, ‘unhappiness’ and ‘notfeeling like myself’.Three of the students found it either fairly easy or very easy to make friendswhile they were at university and only one student found the general experienceof making friends fairly difficult. To make new friends, the four participants madethe effort to socialise, in particular talking to as many people as possible on theirHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 58 of 129
  • 59. course. Attending sports classes and social events was also a popular methodused to make friends.Three students agreed or strongly agreed that it was important to feel like theybelonged when making friends and that it was important to make friends so thatthey did not feel like they were alone. All of the participants agreed that it wasimportant to have others to share their time with and all four students alsoagreed or strongly agreed that it was important to have others to share newexperiences with and to have fun or enjoyment with. The majority of studentsagreed or strongly agreed that it was important to make friends with others whocould help them out if they needed it and to also have others who they could talkto about their problems.Not all students agreed with all of the friendship statements in the survey. Whilstmost of the students felt it was important to make friends with people who wouldintroduce them to other people, one participant disagreed that this was importantto them. Three students strongly agreed that it was important to make friendswith someone who could give them advice, yet one student disagreed that thiswas an essential friendship quality for them. Whilst most students agreed that itwas important to make friends with someone who would listen to them when theywere upset, one participant disagreed with the importance of this quality whenmaking friends.When asked to comment on the impact friendships had on the students’enjoyment at university, two students believed that the quantity of friends madeat university had an impact on their enjoyment and two did not feel it had aninfluence. In comparison, the quality of friendships appeared to have moreimpact. Three students claimed that friendship quality influenced their enjoymentat university and only one student felt it made no difference to their time there.Overall, the students stated that the friendships had no impact on their decisionto withdraw from university, with only one student claiming that it had a little bitof an influence on their decision.DiscussionThe small sample size means that it is hard to draw meaningful conclusions.None of the six leavers who responded had been involved in BUSU communityand volunteering activities. It is, of course, tempting to suggest that participatingin such activities may have made an impact on these students, but notnecessarily. The research raises some interesting questions. Half the sampleHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 59 of 129
  • 60. group were aware of the BUSU activities, but chose not to participate. Whatprevented these students from doing so? Could anything be done to have helpedthem take the first step and would it have made any difference to their decisionto leave anyway?All the respondents had been able to make at least one friend and didn’t see thelack of a larger friendship circle was a problem. However, homesickness andloneliness are alluded to in their answers. Clearly, no one wants to admit thatthey haven’t made enough friends, so that may explain the slight inconsistencyhere.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 60 of 129
  • 61. Strand BProgrammes with Better thanPeer Rates of RetentionHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 61 of 129
  • 62. Nursing courses within the School of Health andSocial CareIntroductionDuring the project’s initial development stage, staff within the School of Healthand Social Care (HSC) approached the Bournemouth team to explore issues ofretention in two BSc/Adv Dip Nursing (Adult) programmes taught atgeographically distinct locations. Whilst, at that stage, the methodology had notbeen fully developed for the programme audit process, it was felt that this wouldmake a useful pilot study and could support the development of the process infuture years.The programmes were taught at the Bournemouth University Lansdowne campus(116 students) and at the University College Yeovil (UCY) (34 students). Theapproach had been made because students taught at UCY had a higher rate ofretention than their Lansdowne peers and it was felt important to explore reasonswhy this might be the case.MethodologyQualitative methods were used to explore the first year experience of students onboth courses, including a questionnaire completed by students and semi-structured interviews with staff. Students were also invited to reflect privately ontheir feelings about self-managed learning.The questionnaire was carried out with students at Bournemouth and Yeovilduring their Personal and Academic Development (PAD) sessions duringNovember and December 2008 (a learning to learn unit within their programme).The questionnaire explored the students’ feelings prior to coming to university,their expectations of support in higher education and an evaluation of the supportthey actually received in their first term. Students were asked if they hadconsidered leaving university at any point during their first few weeks on thecourse and, if they had experienced doubts, what had persuaded them to stay.Students were given the opportunity to share things that they found ‘strange’HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 62 of 129
  • 63. about university life and were also asked about their personal expectations ofbecoming a nurse.To gain staff perspectives on the first year experience of students, semi-structured audio-recorded interviews were conducted with a total of 8 lecturersfrom Bournemouth and Yeovil in June and July 2009. The lecturers were invitedto discuss their views on the importance of support for students prior touniversity and during their first few weeks of term. They were also able toconsider their role in communicating expectations to first year students andhelping the students engage with information at the start of the course. Toconclude the interviews, the lecturers were asked for their advice to seniormanagement for improving retention and engagement.The staff sample consisted of eight lecturers who taught on the BSc/Adv dipNursing (Adults) programme at both locations – five at Bournemouth and three atYeovil. Five of the lecturers were female and three were male. All of theparticipants were lecturers, including three programme leaders6. Seven of theparticipants were also personal tutors. Experience in the personal tutor rolevaried between those who had been a personal tutor for many years and thosewho were new to the role. One of the participants with dual lecturer/personaltutor responsibility had experience of being a personal tutor with the OpenUniversity, one had a psychology background as opposed to nursing, and anotherlecturer was also coordinator for admissions. These differences in backgroundwere valuable in adding a different perspective to the interviews.All students and staff participated in the study on a voluntary basis and ethicalapproval for the project was gained via the lead institution for the HERE Project atNottingham Trent University. All data were kept confidential and names and otheridentifying information removed for anonymity. At the start of each interview theparticipant was referred to the participant information sheet and asked to confirmthat they were happy to take part in the interview and happy for the interview tobe recorded.Qualitative data from the student questionnaires, personal reflections and staffinterviews were analysed for key themes. Thematic analysis was conducted by6 The Lansdowne based course has two intakes (September & January); there is aprogramme leader for both intakes.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 63 of 129
  • 64. three researchers in the project team and subsequently compared to increasevalidity.Student SurveysThe following represents initial findings from the student surveys. At this stagethe results are not differentiated by campus. The students were questioned inthe following 11 areas: 1. What were the students excited about before starting university? 2. What were the students concerned most about before starting university? 3. What sort of support did the students expect from the university prior to arriving? 4. What role do the students feel that the university should play in their student journey into higher education? 5. What support did the students get from the university during Freshers week? 6. What support did the students get from the university during Blocks 1 and 2? 7. What is being a nurse all about for the students? 8. What were the students’ expectations of themselves as nursing students? 9. Did any of the students think about leaving during the first few weeks in the first year and, if so, what persuaded them to stay? 10.What did the students find ‘strange’ about university life? 11.Additional comments from the studentsHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 64 of 129
  • 65. Student Responses1. What were the students excited about before starting university?The prospect of meeting people and making new friends was the main area ofexcitement for the students prior to starting university. They were lookingforward to learning new skills and progressing with their knowledge of nursing, aswell as starting something new and experiencing a new challenge. Individualresponses included:• Excited at fulfilling my dream career• Maturing as a person both personally and professionally• I was excited about getting my uniform• I was looking forward to meeting lots of people and, more than anything, finding direction in my life. I feel lucky I’ve been able to do something I really enjoyThe students were also enthusiastic about going on placements, starting theircareer and achieving goals.2. What were the students concerned most about before startinguniversity?Interestingly, the most popular concern among students prior to university wasmaking friends. Whilst they were excited about meeting new people, the studentswere concerned about not ‘fitting in’, not knowing anyone and not liking theirhousemates. Financial concerns were naturally a worry for many, particularlythose moving away from home. Many students were anxious about managingtheir time and coping with the workload, and others were troubled by the fear ofnot doing well or not coping with the level of work at university:• I was nervous about this course because I really wanted to enjoy it and I didn’t want to fail. I wanted to succeed because I really want to be a nurse• I was concerned about how much information I would be given before being given an assignment• I was concerned about how much time I would be in lessons and how much would be self-taught over the courseHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 65 of 129
  • 66. The students also highlighted concerns about having the ability to write assignments and not knowing what was expected of them academically. The students appear determined to succeed and are dedicated to their ambition of becoming a nurse which increases the pressure on them to not fail. 3. What sort of support did the students expect from the university prior to arriving? Most students expected clear instructional information prior to starting university regarding the practical elements of the first week at university, such as where to go, timetables, accommodation details and financial information on fees, loans and bursaries. They expected answers to any questions they had and wanted information about their course, for example, an introduction to the structure, content and some background reading. Some expected the support of a personal tutor or someone assigned to them if they needed help, others expected advice on practical issues about their placement such as finding out which immunisations were needed and what shoes they would have to wear. The majority of the students felt that the support they received prior to starting university met their expectations and had been very good. Students in particular spoke highly of support from staff at the university: • My tutor is very approachable. I was pleased by all the other types of support as well • I got all the information I needed to be in the right place at the right times which helpedSome students felt satisfied that they knew support was available if needed but hadnot yet required support. Where students didn’t feel they received appropriatesupport prior to arriving, communication issues appeared to be at the centre ofmost problems e.g. students not feeling they received sufficient course informationor finance details, and being given incorrect practical information for the first day • I wanted clear instructions as to where I needed to be and at what time I needed to be there as I was told to be at Bournemouth but I actually should have been at UCY it was horrible and after turning up at Bournemouth at 9am I then had to get to UCY and as I do not drive it was stressful and expensive I was very late and it was a horrid start to my course HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 66 of 129
  • 67. One student disliked e-mail as a form of communication, finding it a difficultmethod for explaining issues, and another student felt that the course informationgiven seemed to contradict itself.It is clear that many of the discrepancies over support have arisen as a result of amismatch between student expectations of university life and the reality of theexperience, as the following quotes illustrate:• I was expecting it to be like school• I didn’t think I’d be left to just do everything with so little support. We have to find out what work we need to do on our own• Sometimes I miss deadlines cause I don’t know about the work because we haven’t been instructed or it’s not made clear what we have to do• It was a learning curve to do most of the work on my ownThese responses highlight the gap between students’ expectations of school anduniversity. It demonstrates why some students may have felt they did not receivethe support they expected prior to starting university and emphasises the needfor clear and consistent explanations of the differences between school anduniversity.4. What role do the students feel that the university should play in theirstudent journey into higher education?The students expected the university to play a supportive role in their journey,providing advice, guidance, understanding and encouragement. Students alsobelieved that the university should help them to gain the relevant knowledgeneeded to become a good nurse, again linking to the students’ desire for success:• I feel the university should play a role of teaching me all I need to know to be the best nurse I can and to be there to support me on my journey• Provide me with the information or direct me in the right direction to obtain the information for my knowledge to growThe students felt that the university should help to ensure that they experience asmooth transition into HE and that they should be introduced to standards slowlyand efficiently. The provision of good, clear communication was important, withexpectations that all aspects of learning should be explained concisely andthoroughly.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 67 of 129
  • 68. Whilst the students indicated that support was a crucial role of the university,some were not averse to independent learning and did not expect to be ‘spoonfed’:• I think most learning should be done independently and the university should be there to make sure you are on the right track and there if you need any help or have any worries• Help us how to manage our time and workload effectively – offer seminars/one-to-one sessionsAs well as providing academic support, the students wanted tutors to be there foremotional support if needed. They also felt that the university should providemore social opportunities and group activities. One student, for example,commented that the university should:• Encourage social team building exercises with class mates as it makes you feel less aloneIncreasing group activities would help to settle the students’ concerns about notknowing anyone at the start of term and assist the settling in period.5. What support did the students get from the university during Freshersweek?During Freshers week the students received lots of information on their course,university life, who to go to for advice and expectations of themselves asstudents in higher education. In terms of practical support, the students weregiven tours of their campus and introduced to library and IT support. The overallconsensus, however, was that too much information was given too quickly duringthe week and the students found it hard to take everything in. Freshers week wasclassed as ‘overwhelming’, ‘confusing’ and a ‘baptism of fire’:• We had a lot to take on during this week. It’s almost a blur now we’ve started the course and have taken on so much information• Everyone felt bamboozled• Felt that we were given a lot of information all at once and it was difficult to take on board. Maybe Fresher fortnight would be better!HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 68 of 129
  • 69. In addition to receiving a wealth of information during Freshers week, thestudents also received support from their peers, tutors and administrative staff.Some participants felt that Freshers week for them was all about getting to knoweach other and being encouraged to interact with other students. This reflects theopinion of some of the staff interviewed for the study.A small number of students didn’t believe they received much support at allduring Freshers week or claimed that they did not need any. This may relate toparticipants’ interpretation of the question and whether for them, support meantneeding to ask for help as opposed to receiving information and guidance thatweek. One student felt there was no support for satellite institutions duringFreshers week. This may be associated with the differences between studentsocial activities at the campuses in Yeovil and Bournemouth.6. What support did the students get from the university during Blocks 1and 2?Tutor support featured highly as a key source of support during Blocks 1 and 2.One student at Yeovil felt that there was much better support during this periodthan they received during Freshers week. In contrast, a student at Bournemouthfelt they had received more information during Freshers and had just been ‘left toget on with it’ during Blocks 1 and 2. Students received support in relation toassignment guidance, expectations of independent study, information aboutplacements and had their questions answered.Whilst the students highlighted that they had received help with MyBu, there wasa strong message that they found the system ‘confusing’:• Other than our personal tutor, I don’t feel the uni made any good attempt at supporting us. Although I realise HE is more independent, I feel as though the uni has dropped us in the deep end. MyBU is not useful or easy to learn fromOther students felt that MyBU was useful once they knew how to use it butagreed that it could have been clearer. The feeling of being dropped in at thedeep end continues to highlight the difficulties experienced by first year studentsduring the transition phase and tutor support is evidently regarded highly.7. What is being a nurse all about for the students?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 69 of 129
  • 70. Caring, helping, supporting and were all words that the students associated withbeing a nurse. As well as defining the need to be professional, knowledgeable,constantly learning and able to work well as part of a team, the students alsohighlighted personal qualities that they felt were essential for being a nurse, suchas the ability to listen to patients, show understanding and respecting patients’privacy and dignity:• To be a good nurse I believe you should be well-informed, honest, empathetic and have a passion for your role• It is also about making people feel safe and happy during a stressful and vulnerable experienceMany of the students felt it was important to take a holistic approach as a nurseand use their skills to address the physical, psychological, emotional and socialaspects of patient care.For others, being a nurse was all about the passion of doing something theyenjoyed and making a difference to the lives of others in their role. They feltproud of the responsibility they would have as a nurse:• I like how patients put their trust into you. I feel good after a day’s work• I can’t really explain but I know when I’m not nursing I feel a big part of me is missing. It’s an opportunity to give something back and a privilege to be such help and support to people• To feel I am giving back to the community. I want to be able to look back over my life and feel that I have given something, to make a difference for the better. I want people to see that I care by my actions whether they be big or smallIn addition to wanting to improve patients’ health and make them feelcomfortable and at ease, some students acknowledged that they wanted toempower patients with knowledge to make their own decisions about their care.8. What were the students’ expectations of themselves as nursingstudents?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 70 of 129
  • 71. The most common expectation of the students was to gain nursing knowledgeand develop their skills for practice so that they could become a good nurse andprovide quality care. The responses gave a balance between academicexpectations of themselves as students as well as the perception of their nursingrole in placement, emphasising the dual identity of student nurses. The studentswere determined to work to the best of their ability and held high expectations ofthemselves. They were generally dedicated to passing their course and doingwell:• I will take this opportunity as once in a lifetime and will try and work my hardest to achieveAchieving good grades was an important expectation of the students and providesan interesting comparison to the lecturers’ vision of student success whichfocused more on individual growth and development of the students as nurses.Many expected the experience to be a learning curve and wanted to increase theirconfidence in practice. They wanted to learn from every opportunity, to askquestions and to take all advice and instruction when given. They intended tolearn from mistakes encountered and not let it deter them from becoming asuccessful nurse:• Being able to recognise my strengths and weaknesses, achieving academically good grades and making the most out of the opportunity I have been given. I feel like a blank canvas with the ability to grow both personally and academicallyAs student nurses they expected to be punctual, caring, to listen, be hardworking,professional and approachable. They also expected to take responsibility for theiractions.9. Did any of the students think about leaving during the first few weeksin the first year and, if so, what persuaded them to stay?Out of the 150 students who completed the questionnaire, 32 students (21%)had considered leaving during the first few weeks of their course. Five studentshad considered leaving from the programme in Yeovil (14%) and 27 atBournemouth (23%). Some of those that had not considered leaving in the firstHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 71 of 129
  • 72. weeks still commented that they worried about whether they’d be able to cope ormanage their time.The most common reason that persuaded students to stay was their passion forwanting to become a nurse. The sheer determination of wanting to fulfil theircareer and lifelong ambition helped them to persevere:• I came here to be a nurse and I am going to achieve my dream. I know there will be ups and downs along the way• I want to be a nurse. I feel that this is the only career I want to pursue which made me stay. I know once I get on with the course it will get better for meStudents commented that they had remained at university to prove they could doit, to better themselves and because they did not want to disappoint themselves.These feelings reflect the high expectations and pressure the students may haveplaced on themselves to succeed as nurses.Support from other people was a factor in persuading some of the students tostay, including friends, family, personal tutors and lecturers. This kind of supportalso caused one student to feel like they’d be letting down people who tried tohelp them if they left university. Another student had struggled with balancingtheir student and family life and experienced guilt in leaving her children while atuniversity. For this particular student, things improved once they were in a betterroutine and guilt was overcome as a result. One student’s faith helped them tostay as they felt they were here for a reason.Many of the doubters felt that they hadn’t given university a chance andexpressed that it was difficult to tell whether they would enjoy the experiencefrom the first couple weeks. They also believed things would improve once theirplacements had begun. For this reason, they continued with their studies. Otherinfluencing factors included not wanting to have regrets, not wanting to wastetime and effort by giving up and being unsure of what else they would do.10. What did the students find ‘strange’ about university life?The concept of independent learning was considered strange by the majority ofstudents who found the expectation of self directed work a complete contrast totheir school or college educational experience. Taking responsibility for their selfmanaged learning was new to most:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 72 of 129
  • 73. • It’s a shock to come into an education environment where nearly everything is self taught. It’s extremely difficult to get to grips withStudents believed they had been ‘spoon-fed’ in the past and been given moretaught guidance on assignments which may account for their difficulty inadjusting to independent study in higher education. The amount of timededicated to self managed learning at university was consequently consideredstrange by the students:• How much free time I have. It took me a while to learn to use this time efficientlyStudents were surprised at the level of free time they had at university and foundthat self-discipline and self-motivation were required. The flexibility surroundingwhen the students had to attend university was again very different to the morerigid structure of school life.As may be expected, there were also practical elements of going to universitythat some students found strange, particularly if this was their first time awayfrom home. Food shopping, a lack of money and coping away from home were allfactors associated with the first year experience of university life:• Living alone is very strange, doing things independently had made me mature as I am able to make my own decisions that will help me with my career• Being without my family as they are normally always there to help me be organisedIn some respects, the independence of living away from home was viewed as apositive experience, allowing students to develop in maturity and ‘grow up’.Others, however, highlighted the bizarreness of having to live with people thatthey may not necessarily get on with.A theme in relation to identity also emerged as an aspect the students foundstrange. It appeared that some students were struggling with different identities,whether relating to their role as a student, family member or employee. Forexample, the following student was preoccupied with the characteristicsassociated with a stereotypical student identity:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 73 of 129
  • 74. • I hate being called a ‘student’. I have a flat, a job and other things like that and hate the stigma attached to studentsThis emphasises how students arrive at university with different backgrounds,expectations and personal responsibilities. In contrast, another student seemeddisappointed at not being able to fulfill the student identity, feeling that they weremissing out on student life due to family commitments and living far away. Thenursing identity was only referred to in a physical context by one student whoclaimed that the uniform trousers were strange as they were ‘unable to bendwhen wearing them!’Age likewise had an impact on how the students identified themselves. Severalstudents found being a mature student at university strange. Those thatconsidered themselves older felt that a lot of university life was geared towardsyounger students. Having a mixture of age groups in a class was a newexperience for most.11. Additional comments from the studentsA strong message from the students at Yeovil was that they felt segregated fromBournemouth University. Students claimed that they missed out on the socialaspect of university life by being located at Yeovil and suggested that more sportsand social clubs should be organised for satellite institutions. A student atBournemouth requested better support for mature students but it was notspecified whether this related to learning support or social opportunities.With regard to the content and structure of the adult nursing programme, somestudents criticised that there was too much self managed learning time and thatthe number of lectures should be increased. Students indicated that they wouldlike lecturers to explain things thoroughly and not rush through the content oftheir lectures. Some students did not see the benefit of including the PAD unit onthe nursing curriculum and there was a request for a greater understanding of thetutor and mentor role. It was also suggested that students should be advised tohave worked as a Health Care Assistant before starting the course and thatopportunities to learn abroad should be included as part of their practice hours.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 74 of 129
  • 75. Staff InterviewsAs was the case with the student interviews, the results have been merged in thisinitial report. The Bournemouth team will be working on separating staffcomments about attitudes in the 2009-10 academic year. Staff were asked fortheir opinions about the following questions: 1. How important do the lecturers think tutor contact with students is during the month or so prior to starting at university? 2. What mechanisms did the lecturers feel were in place to ensure the ‘seamless’ support of their students? 3. Do the lecturers think that students need transition support? 4. What do the lecturers think is the right level and right amount of information that needs to be given to students about their course and about the university prior to arriving? 5. What do the lecturers think is about the right level and right amount of information that needs to be given to students during Freshers’ week? 6. What do the lecturers do to encourage students to engage with this information? 7. What did the lecturers think a typical Freshers week looked like to the student? 8. What do the lecturers feel is the best way to facilitate engagement of students in their personal and academic development? 9. How do the lecturers communicate academic expectations to students? 10. How did the lecturers perceive that first year students make sense of feedback to assessed work? 11. How did the lecturers define student success? 12. What do the lecturers feel enhances the early experiences of students at university?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 75 of 129
  • 76. 1. How important do the lecturers think tutor contact with students isduring the month or so prior to starting at university?Overall, the majority of lecturers interviewed thought that contact with studentsprior to the start of university was a good idea and would be useful. Mostrecognised the potential of prior contact with a personal tutor, considering itvaluable for increasing a sense of belonging for the students and creatingfamiliarity for them before their arrival:• In an ideal world yes it would because I think if you can start that initial contact and a students actually got a name or a voice that they can sort of relate to I think that could be quite useful because it gives the student the feeling that there’s actually somebody at the university who already knows them or who’s got some idea of what they’re likeWhilst the lecturers believed prior contact with their first year students would bebeneficial, it was acknowledged that resourcing this support would beproblematic. The process would place additional demands on the personal tutorrole, taking up more of their time and increasing their workload. One personaltutor stated that they were not always aware in advance of which students wouldbe in their tutor group and conflict with the university vision was also highlightedas a potential issue, with one lecturer claiming • “I’m not sure the university would value the time”Despite the practical obstacles identified for prior contact, all of the lecturers feltthe personal tutor role was highly important. Some lecturers considered that thetutor role comes into effect from day one in Freshers week and was not applicableprior to university. They considered Freshers to be the time when most support isneeded by the students:• I do think that’s important because…it’s not that you want to create dependency but it’s just to meet their esteem needs, their affiliation needs. That needs to be right from the beginning so in some ways the content’s not so importantThe personal tutor role was emphasised as being ‘pivotal’ for student support atthis stage and it was recognised that the tutors should provide both pastoral andHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 76 of 129
  • 77. academic support, ‘especially for young students who’ve moved out and arefinding their feet’.One lecturer struggled with the concept of ‘mothering’ students and ‘over-nurturing’, instead viewing the tutor role as more of a facilitator. Ask BU wasreferenced as a useful resource to direct students to for support. One lecturerassociated prior contact with students as a role for the administrative staff of thenursing programme and felt tutors could deal with more specific enquiries ifneeded. Another suggested using a form of prior contact used by the OpenUniversity whereby personal tutors send a letter to students in advance tointroduce themselves and explain the personal tutor role. This lecturer felt thatthe letter provided a personal touch which was important for easing students’anxieties and making them feel included before they start.The lecturers also commended the Stepping Stones 2HE programme on MyBU asa useful method of contact with students prior to university. The presentationactivity for nurses on Stepping Stones was considered ‘really invaluable’ forengaging the students and the interaction helped to increase their sense ofbelonging. The lecturers found the ‘About You’ questionnaire on Stepping Stonesuseful for finding out about their students in advance, although one personaltutor admitted they had not followed up responses to the questionnaire.2. What mechanisms did the lecturers feel were in place to ensure the‘seamless’ support of their students?The lecturers listed a variety of support mechanisms that they felt worked well fortheir students. In their roles as personal tutors they ensured that students knewwhat was expected of them, provided encouragement and reassurance,highlighted opportunities available and believed it was important to act as rolemodels for their students. The role of admin was deemed essential in contributingto seamless support and there was recognition of the need for personal tutors toinvest time in getting to know the students, putting them at the centre of things.AskBU and the Students Union were also highlighted as consistent sources ofsupport when tutors were unavailable.Good communication was at the heart of seamless support for the students. Thelecturers acknowledged that without efficient communication between supportservices, students, lecturers and personal tutors, the ‘seamless service can falldown’. Even good communication with uniform providers was stated as necessaryto ease students’ anxieties surrounding the arrival of their uniforms. It was alsoHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 77 of 129
  • 78. highlighted that seamless support is, to a certain extent, dependent on studentsbeing proactive.The programme team at Yeovil felt they were able to provide seamless support totheir students because they were a smaller team. Collaboration of a smaller teamenabled the lecturers to have more direct involvement with the students inworkshops and even enabled them to arrange meetings with the University LinkCoordinators to identify students at risk of struggling on the programme. Theteam approach at Yeovil ensures that students are not solely reliant on theirpersonal tutor. If their personal tutor is absent, other tutors are likely to knowthe students well enough to offer guidance instead. Peer support was consideredinvaluable at Yeovil due to the small group size and helped to spread the supportnetwork for students, enhancing the seamlessness.It was considered that the first few weeks were overwhelming for the studentsand one lecturer in particular related this to their own experience of being a newmember of staff based at Bournemouth. The lecturer could empathise with thestudents’ perspective and did not think the support systems in place weretransparent or connected enough to understand:• I’m new so if I’m struggling with systems and trying to find information and for me it’s fragmented, then it must be doubly difficult for studentsIn contrast to the support provided at Yeovil, this lecturer found the supportsystems at Bournemouth unclear and not seamless, highlighting the need to raiseawareness and understanding among staff of the support available to students.Communication is again highlighted as essential.One lecturer felt that the university offered everything in terms of support for apositive student experience, their only criticism being the tendency of sometutors to over-nurture students. Likewise, another lecturer claimed ‘we don’tbecome their parent or friend’ in the personal tutor role. Knowing when to referstudents on to other support services was important. This reflects the need for adistinction of the personal tutor role and expectations of support that accompanythat role:• I was trying to deliver PAD and help them adjust to MyBU so it was an awful lot. I think the boundaries got blurred between my tutor role and PADHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 78 of 129
  • 79. • I think they [students] expect, I think there’s an expectation from personal tutors that they are this all powerful oracle that knows stuff and unfortunately we don’t we don’t know stuff we can’t know everything, in my experience of working here, things change week by week by week you know, policies change very quickly and what you thought might be current policy is now changed to be something differentBoth quotes above imply that greater clarification of the personal tutor role isrequired for students and lecturers.3. Do the lecturers think that students need transition support?The lecturers agreed that there was much purpose to the support of studentsduring transition to higher education and that support was necessary during thisperiod. It was noted that for many students, university is different to previouseducational experiences and the transition period provided an opportunity toresolve any misconceptions students had about university life. The lecturers alsobelieved that clear expectations should be set from the start so that students donot become frustrated and disengaged:• It’s just like any life transition. It can be quite stressful it’s a brilliant opportunity to grow not just as a person but as a professional, but it’s not always that easy and people often are hesitant to make the leap or, if things don’t go right, can easily withdraw. So I think it’s important to have support through transitionA need for both academic and pastoral support was recognised and emphasis wasplaced on developing students’ self esteem and self efficacy during transition.One lecturer had heard a student say ‘I don’t feel I belong’ which indicates theimportance students place on fitting in and being accepted by their peers.Freshers week was considered a good mechanism for enhancing this sense ofbelonging.Whilst it was of common opinion that personal tutors should support studentsduring transition, it was evident that the majority were in favour of a facilitativerole during this period. Emphasis was placed on empowering students duringtransition as opposed to spoon feeding or over-nurturing:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 79 of 129
  • 80. • Just like you empower your patients when you are in practice you need to empower the students. So yes, you need to give them help initially but it is about also telling them where they can find help• It is a support role but a professional kind of mentoring in the ancient Greek kind of sensePersonal tutors used their role during transition to encourage, reassure andincrease students’ confidence. Creating a safe environment for failure and successwas imperative.Self managed learning was classed as a further area requiring support duringtransition. The lecturers found that students struggle with the philosophy of selfmanaged learning and are unsure of the expectations, for example, knowing howto use their study time. The Yeovil lecturing team dedicated a seminar to selfmanaged learning to address the difficulties yet in Bournemouth, the subject wasintegrated into the course lectures. Support for academic writing in highereducation and IT skills were other aspects identified as needing transitionsupport. One lecturer also felt strongly that the importance of the professionalregistration for nursing should be reiterated during transition as some students‘don’t appreciate the seriousness of what they’re doing’.4. What do the lecturers think is the right level and right amount ofinformation that needs to be given to students about their course andabout the university prior to arriving?To avoid bombarding students at the start of term, the lecturers felt that certaininformation could be sent in advance to students. It was recommended thatinformation should be broken down into smaller, more manageable ‘chunks’ forstudents, providing more functional information prior to arriving (such astimetables, basic course details) that can be built on during Freshers week. Somefelt that the nursing interviews could be used to identify vulnerable students inadvance and to signpost them to study skills support before the start ofuniversity. Others believed that Stepping Stones 2HE could be used moreeffectively, perhaps by giving students access as soon as they have accepted aplace at the university. This in theory would allow students more time to absorbinformation at their own pace. Information prior to arriving was also linked tostudent retention:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 80 of 129
  • 81. • I think there is scope for engaging with them at an earlier stage and I think that might have more impact on them stayingWhilst most shared similar views on the level and amount of information thatshould be given to students prior to arrival, lecturers at Yeovil placed more focuson Freshers week. One lecturer at Bournemouth expressed the perspective that‘one size doesn’t fit all’ and proposed an ‘opt in and opt out’ approach toinformation giving prior to university, claiming that some students ‘do want asmuch information as possible to sort of get ahead of the game and others won’twant that’. Achieving the right balance of prior information was, therefore, adifficult task.Further suggestions for advance information included the course handbook, thedata stick of information (usually distributed during Freshers), initial lecture andseminar notes, a list of key reading texts and frequently asked questions andanswers. The creation of student groups on Facebook prior to arriving atuniversity was considered appropriate by one lecturer, highlighting the impact ofsocial networking as a communication method.5. What do the lecturers think is about the right level and right amountof information that needs to be given to students during Freshers week?In line with the students’ perspective of Freshers week, the majority of lecturersconsidered the experience as ‘full on’ and overwhelming for students. MyBU wasviewed as ‘mesmerizing’ and the tendency to overload students with informationwas regarded as having a negative impact. One lecturer linked this to thecognitive ability of the students:• They don’t have those processes to enable them to filter out what is important, what isn’t important, so they either forget everything or get so worried that they need to know everything that they become these ineffectual peopleAs well as coping with a deluge of information, it was also recognised thatexcitement can act as a barrier: • I think there’s such a level of excitement in that first month that they just completely don’t take it on boardHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 81 of 129
  • 82. Extending Freshers week was one suggestion to give students more time toabsorb information. This would allow more time for settling in and ensure thatstudents were then more focused on their course.Most felt that information should be spread out at a reasonable pace, picking outrelevant information and revisiting details that the students had received inadvance. With regard to the level of information given, the lecturers believed thatoverviews were more productive and enhanced by repetition:• Information isn’t successful if it’s just given once so I suppose it’s giving an overall view and as the year progresses you’re doing gentle reminders highlighting particular thingsOne example given was the data stick distributed to students during Freshersweek. Content on the data stick is not necessarily explored by the students in thefirst week but tutors are able to direct them to the resource when needed. Thisalso emphasised the facilitator role of personal tutors.As opposed to focusing on information delivery, the lecturers believed that themost important aim of Freshers week was friendship development and buildingself-esteem. Personal tutors concentrated on making students feel safe andsecure and highlighted acceptance and ‘fitting in’ as being vital to students. Onelecturer explained that they spend the first two days of Freshers week bondingwith their tutor group to aid affiliation for the students, yet not encouragedependency. The social side, such as getting to know each other, the universityculture and the kind of tutoring support they’d received, took priority and wasfollowed later in the week with a focus on expectations in the first year, anintroduction to support services, the library and IT. Peer support was consideredvaluable.6. What do the lecturers do to encourage students to engage with thisinformation?Numerous individual methods were adopted by the lecturers to engage students.The use of discussion forums, seminars to demonstrate the use of MyBU, skillsdevelopment and library sessions all aimed to help students make sense of theinformation given to them. Tutors found it more productive to provide small,HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 82 of 129
  • 83. realistic ‘chunks’ of information and an overview of the year to avoid overloadingthe students. More practical approaches included colour coding the timetable forstudents and producing a DVD for students as a modified version of the data stickthat was regarded as more user-friendly. Being a role model to the students andusing assessment to engage the students was also discussed, and getting thestudents to work in different groups and not always with the same people wassuggested as a useful way of engaging large, diverse groups.At Yeovil, the lecturing team ensured that input was purposeful for studentsduring the transition period by making strong links to practice. They find thatstudents seem to engage more if they know it will help them in their career to bea nurse:• I’m saying to them look these are the skills you’re going to need to reach year 2 so we’ve started talking about critical analysis being evaluative being reflective and they actually seem to be engaging a bit better nowContextualising information in relation to practice, therefore, was successful formotivating first year students. Group support was also encouraged, with studentshelping each other access information. The benefits of small cohorts at Yeovilwere also reflected on by a lecturer at Bournemouth who had a small tutor group.The smaller group allowed students to engage in IT skills development sessions ina more practical and positive way. More time could be dedicated to individualtechnical problems the students were experiencing, such as logging on to thesystem.Many lecturers expressed that it was the responsibility of individual tutors toengage students with the information. The Tannenberg Schmidt model ofmentoring was recommended by one lecturer (this emphasises the need for moreinput and encouragement at the beginning), with students becoming moreindependent as they progress through the programme. Whilst most agreed that itwas important to generate independence, this naturally led to further debatesurrounding the ‘over-nurturing’ of students.• Some personal tutors have got a very hands off approach and others may be too much of a hands on approach, you know, that they do mother the students too much although you could argue that for the first couple of months that’s what they needHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 83 of 129
  • 84. Achieving a balance of support appeared to be a challenge. Tutors did not want tospoon feed students but they also did not want students to struggle alone. Thefacilitative role of personal tutors emerged as the most suitable alternative: • It is our responsibility to check that they have access to support and information which would benefit their growth as students• The only person that can really cater for their individuality is the student themselves so they have to learn to look after their own needs and you have to learn to support them. You know you can’t take it overEffective facilitation skills were required by the tutor and the ability to know theboundaries of their support. Providing that tutors are fully aware of the supportservices available to students and can direct them to information, most felt thatstudents should be encouraged to make sense of information for themselves.Reassuring students and creating a safe non-threatening environment werethought to enhance this process.7. What did the lecturers think a typical Freshers week looked like to thestudent?Confusing, daunting, ‘full on’ and a time for partying were words that thelecturers associated with Freshers week in the eyes of the students. They impliedthat students were overloaded with information and some discover at this pointthat their expectations of university are different to reality. The emotional impactcan be intense:• They find it a rush of emotions…they wonder how they are ever going to get through the three years• Total confusion…students can start to become disillusionedThe lecturers claimed that Freshers week should look exciting but there needs tobe clear direction in relation to the logistics of the week and who students cancontact if they have a problem. Again, it was suggested that Freshers weekshould be extended ‘to allow them that nice easy transition’ and help avoidinformation overload. The need to prioritise information and processes wasemphasised:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 84 of 129
  • 85. • Helping them to get to know each other is far more important than telling them how to be thrown off the course in the first day which has happened in the past where we’ve had programmes that have talked about these…rules of professional conduct which they need to know but not right at the beginning, that can be developedThis reflects the opinion of tutors who feel more time should be directed towardsfriendship formation. Whilst the students may feel overwhelmed and daunted, itwas acknowledged that the drive to be a good nurse keeps them going. This viewis supported by the majority of nursing student doubters who persevered with thecourse due to career ambitions.The lecturers considered that Freshers week could be impersonal for somestudents who may feel they are ‘just a face in a group’ and ‘not seen asindividual’. For this reason, many placed more value on the students establishingthemselves in their tutor group and forming a group identity early on as opposedto overloading with information in the first instance:• They need to feel accepted and safe first then they need a little bit of practical information, then they can take on the rest of it…I think sometimes there’s a tension there…I think Freshers week, if we could develop it in terms of support, it’s more about helping them feel safe firstAcceptance by their peer group was deemed important. Student interaction andthe importance of making friends was accentuated, and the use of socialnetworking sites to encourage group development, support and the exchange ofinformation was utilised by students.Whilst most lecturers agreed that Freshers week was confusing for the students,a tutor at Yeovil believed Freshers week worked well, with information stagedeffectively. This contrasts to students’ views of Freshers week at Yeovil. It wasperceived that parity between Freshers week at Bournemouth and Yeovil hadimproved. However, interestingly students at Lansdowne campus atBournemouth still felt isolated from the freshers events taking place at TalbotCampus:• I think they have much more fun over at Talbot Campus and I’ve always believed that the school of nursing should be at the Talbot Campus to allow our students to actively engage with other students there from other schoolsHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 85 of 129
  • 86. In agreement with the students’ opinion, some lecturers felt there was a lack ofopportunity to engage in social events when based at Lansdowne campus. Itreduced the opportunity for student interaction with peers at a broader level.8. What do the lecturers feel is the best way to facilitate engagement ofstudents in their personal and academic development?There was mixed opinion surrounding the benefits of embedding personal andacademic development within the curriculum. Some lecturers expressed thatintegrating graduate skills into nursing programme units was valuable in lettingstudents see that ‘learning skills’ are integral to all the work that they will do. Onetutor, for example, facilitates discussions in their group when academic studyissues arise and gives the students space and time to talk. In contrast, othersfound that separate study skills sessions were more beneficial for students,focusing in depth on specific graduate competencies such as self managedlearning, essay writing and referencing.It was recognised that a range of methods were required for effectively engagingstudents with their personal and academic development, including small groupactivities (which also increased a sense of belonging for the students),appropriate challenges, face-to-face taught sessions, personal tutorials and onlinesupport. Good communication between lecturers and tutors was regarded ashaving a significant impact, as well as providing positive feedback to students. Aclear message was that one size doesn’t fit all:• It’s about being able to use a range of skills to get students to engage• Not all students come with the same size, the same abilities, and they all recognise their abilities at different times so just front loading something, or just expecting online materials is not enoughIt was highlighted that different learning styles and approaches are needed fordifferent students, at different points in time. One lecturer believed that supportwas often first needed by students when they receive their first assignment backas they are more receptive at that point.Different levels of staff commitment had an effect on how students wereencouraged to engage with personal and academic development. As somestudents found the development of graduate competencies overwhelming by notHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 86 of 129
  • 87. understanding the expectations or relevance, most staff felt it was important toexplain the rationale for personal and academic development. They believed itwas necessary to give clear guidelines and explain the learning outcomes whichhelped to contextualise the skills for the students. As inferred earlier, studentsmay engage more if they know that the skills they are acquiring have purposefor their future career.The impact of placements on student development and changing attitudes waslikewise acknowledged as improving students’ maturity and sense ofresponsibility in the first year: • I’m beginning to see them developing and changing and calming downAnother lecturer, however, did not feel that students were academically matureenough to engage in personal and academic development in the first yearstrongly believing that such development takes place in the second or third yearand admitted often saying to first year students not to worry about their marks,‘just as long as you pass’. This draws attention to some fundamental differencesin values amongst staff.The recurrent theme of the personal tutor role was identified as necessary forengaging students in their personal and academic development. Personal tutorswere able to aid the development of positive group relationships and use theirknowledge of the wider nursing programme to help the students make sense ofinformation and support the transition to study in higher education. The personaltutors also felt it was their responsibility to identify students who were strugglingwith their learning and picking the right time to direct them to further support.9. How do the lecturers communicate academic expectations tostudents?The lecturers aimed to set academic expectations very early on to clarifyassumptions made by the students and clearly define behavioural expectations.One of the main areas requiring particular focus was expectations of independentlearning:• I feel very strongly it’s about helping them understand their independent learning as well cos very often that’s the biggest thing we offer them in higher education. This opportunity, this freedom to learn for themselves, to be moreHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 87 of 129
  • 88. effective but they often don’t know how to do it. So again, this idea of saying you know actually 70% of what you’ll learn you’ll learn yourselfWays of communicating expectations included the use of gentle prompts andchallenges (such as setting small goals to push the students and build theirconfidence), addressing academic and practical assignment guidance duringpersonal tutor group sessions, tutors role modelling graduate skills and a studyskills session on the transition to higher education. It was felt that expectationsshould be reviewed periodically, both when academic expectations are being metand when they are not, and also revisited in the second and third year.The most challenging element for lecturers was balancing expectations offreedom with learning the rules. For example, when setting ground rules for thegroup the lecturers were aware of the need to treat the students as adults andnot dictate the expectations:• I’d be reluctant to give them a list of "this is the behaviour we expect of you" because I don’t think that’s treating them like adults but I think it would be nice to give them a list of perhaps what they should aspire to so you know, accessing the library, accessing their e-mails and sell it as a positive rather than a punitive listThe tutors wanted to maintain a sense of student responsibility and independencewhen communicating academic expectations which would enhance the students’development in the first year. The role of the personal tutor was regarded asimportant for supporting students’ understanding of academic expectations but itwas also recognised that students should develop personal responsibility:• How they conduct themselves is their own responsibility but it is our responsibility to check that they have access to support and information which would benefit their growth as studentsIn terms of the best time to communicate expectations, one lecturer atBournemouth preferred to address expectations in the first week of teaching asopposed to Freshers week. This avoided information overload for the studentsduring Freshers week and kept the focus on getting to know each other.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 88 of 129
  • 89. 10. How did the lecturers perceive that first year students make sense offeedback to assessed work?Whilst the lecturers acknowledged that some students find feedback valuable anduse it to improve their work, there was opinion that some students only focus onthe mark they receive for assessed work and do not engage with feedback. Onelecturer commented that they had rarely seen students improve their work as aresult of feedback. When contemplating the reasons why a student may notengage with feedback on assessed work, difficulty understanding the academiclanguage was raised as an issue:• It becomes difficult to try and get people to start thinking analytically if we’re just using these big words that they don’t understand….I think that’s the problem that they face…because we’re writing stuff in our own academic talk you know to appease ourselves really I thinkThis highlights the crucial role of the lecturer or personal tutor in the feedbackprocess. A further issue identified in defence of lecturers was time constraints. Itwas claimed that ‘group size doesn’t allow you the time to write constructivefeedback’ which indicates the impact of staff workloads on the quality of feedbackto students. Both issues emphasise the need to accompany feedback withdialogue from the tutor, a communication method encouraged by the majority oflecturers when giving students feedback.It was considered part of the personal tutor role to ‘enable students to engageeffectively’ with feedback. The tutor was again seen as a facilitator andresponsible for referring students to learning support in their feedback if required.Communication was considered vital in assisting students to make sense offeedback and most encouraged students to discuss their feedback with themwhether they had received good or bad results. It was felt that all students shouldbe encouraged to learn from feedback and improve their work and that positivefeedback would encourage and motivate students in future assessment. Onelecturer believed that feedback had more of an impact when students enteredtheir second year, when low marks tended to prompt them to seek skills support.Reflection on the learning process involved in feedback was a focus for one tutorat Bournemouth. Encouragement of students to reflect on the learning processitself was regarded highly, exploring questions such as how did the studentapproach their learning? What new learning can they take from it? What couldthey have done to improve the situation? Similarly, another lecturer believed thatHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 89 of 129
  • 90. students need to be taught how to engage with feedback and encouraged them topick out three points from their assessed work to improve next time. Publicisingstudy skills sessions was also considered useful and it was acknowledged thatstudents must also take responsibility for engaging with their feedback.Most lecturers favour different processes of engaging their students in feedback.In Yeovil, however, a team approach to feedback was evident. It was implied thatthe lecturing team use the same structure and content of feedback, providingmore detail than the standard university form, but develop their own methods oftranslating the feedback to students. More links to practice were all associated inthe feedback provided to student at Yeovil. One lecturer asserted that it wasessential that students were able to write well and learnt from feedback as theywould need to be able to write clear records as a professional nurse withouterrors.11. How did the lecturers define student success?Definitions of student success ranged from students reaching their potential andcompleting the first year, to developing increased confidence and maturity anddeveloping competent, safe, knowledgeable practitioners. Student success wasrarely associated with the marks students achieved and it was acknowledged thatsuccess was very individual and related more to personal goals:• I would define it as students reaching their potential…students feeling satisfied and perhaps delighted by their performance…knowing you’ve worked really hard for something and actually it’s paid off. I think that the boost you get from that sort of feeling is really incredible. It can motivate you forward… to do even better pieces of work so the mark doesn’t have to be high but I think the student needs to feel that their hard work has paid offWhilst the lecturers related student success to satisfaction with personalperformance, many felt that students tend to relate success to the achievementof high marks. Receiving good marks increased the self esteem of students. Incontrast, one lecturer was disappointed that some students only aim for a passmark of 40% in the first year and do not want to achieve higher. This viewcontradicted the same lecturer’s attitude reflected in response to a previousquestion that marks don’t matter in the first year – to pass is the main focus.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 90 of 129
  • 91. Student success was defined as personal, academic and professional growth,irrespective of their starting point. It was emphasised that success was not justthe end product:• It’s not all about the ultimate end assessment, it’s about what they glean and do along the wayStudents were recognised as being successful for overcoming hurdles in thecourse and coping with life challenges alongside their studies. This strength andself reliance was admired by the tutors:• I can’t predict every personal professional problem they will face in life but if they can cope then we’ve been successful…it won’t stop them being hurt or it won’t stop disappointment but builds resilience and hardinessSuccess was linked to the development of social responsibility and the ability fornursing students to see things differently. The personal tutor’s role wasconsidered to be one of encouragement and providing direction. One tutor felttheir role had been to sow the seeds for the students to act on.Discussion of success highlighted a tension between the academic side of thenursing programme and practice. It was indicated that for some students, gainingthe professional nursing qualification was more important than gaining theacademic qualification. It was regarded as the role of the personal tutor to helpaddress any academic or professional imbalance of skills:• It’s encouraging students to see their strengths which might be more academic or it might be more practical but to really work on the areas where perhaps they are not quite so successful so they’re a bit more of a rounded professional nurse at the endDoing well in the workplace and influencing change during practice was anindicator of student success for the lecturers. The students were likened to‘shining stars’ when their practice profiles reflected good work and high standardsof nursing on the wards. Successful students were considered to be those whowere passionately determined to become a nurse and achieving that goal despitedoubting their abilities to succeed.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 91 of 129
  • 92. The only controversial view of student success was related to a personal opinionthat students studying for the nursing degree had got more to work towards thanthose studying the advanced diploma. They felt the advanced diploma did nothave as much credence in comparison to the degree and the value of success wastherefore different.12. What do the lecturers feel enhances the early experiences ofstudents at university?The role of the personal tutor, peer support and creating a sense of belongingwere considered essential factors for enhancing the early experiences of studentsat university. Developing support networks was perceived to be vital:• I think it’s very quickly slotting into some student network so it’s making friends and support early on and I think connecting with their personal tutor is very, very important so I’d probably say those two factors are the most importantMuch value was placed on friendship formation and building group identity. It wasacknowledged that the students can each offer something different to their groupand they experience the journey together. One lecturer reflected that their tutorgroup was ‘like a little family’, emphasising the impact of peer support, andanother tutor claimed that group identity helped the students carry each otherthrough practice issues.The role of the personal tutor was thought to enhance early experiences byencouraging independence and directing students to support if required. Somebelieved it was the responsibility of personal tutors to help students achieve abalance between the social side of university life and study and give them theconfidence to take on new experiences. Clear communication of expectations wasregarded as necessary:• They find it all a bit of a mystery to start with they’re not quite sure what’s expected of them so I think they do need to feel supported they need to know who they can go and talk to their contacts• I’d have said consistency from the academic staff is important for student stability. The students are actually in that very early stage in quite a fragile state and if things start to fall apart around them, and that can be things likeHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 92 of 129
  • 93. timetable changes, room changes, all of those sorts of things it can be very, very unsettlingThe lecturers recognised that unsettling experiences have an impact on retentionand has caused students to leave in the past. To avoid such results, theyexpressed that the student experience is enhanced early on by good structure,support, putting things into context for students and highlighting expectations.Whilst one lecturer stated ‘I’m not sure it’s anything we do’, most believed it wastheir role as a facilitator of support which was most effective and beingapproachable as students settle into university life.The diversity of tutor groups was considered to have both a positive and negativeeffect on students. With different levels of maturity, personalities and experiencepresent in cohorts, the lecturers felt that group dynamics could prove challengingand that students tended to form friendships with those of a similar age andbackground. Most lecturers were in favour of balanced group composition butindicated that it required good structuring to work well:• I sometimes find that at the beginning is not to allow the group to go into little cliques but to actually split the group up as I want them to split and work together and hopefully that gets the group working in a more cohesive wayMore evenly balanced groups were perceived as useful for friendship formationand produce less risk of social isolation for students from minority groups. Therole of student representatives was also recognised as important for givingstudents a voice and power as a group.In addition to explaining academic expectations to students, it was felt thatstudents needed to experience university life in order to increase theirunderstanding. The lecturers suggested that students can only preparethemselves to a certain extent prior to university:• Its when they get going and they actually start experiencing some of, then it begins to slot into place• It’s like anything isn’t it. Until you experience it, you know you’re not totally sure what it’s going to be likeHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 93 of 129
  • 94. Another physical impact thought to enhance the experience was location. Thelecturers at Yeovil believed a small team makes a huge difference to students’first year experience and has an impact on relationships within the group - therewere ‘less opportunities for closeness’ at Bournemouth. However, whilst this hadadvantages in terms of support, reference was again made to students at Yeovilfeeling left out of the mass student social experience at Talbot Campus.13. What advice would the lecturers give to senior universitymanagement for improving retention and engagement?Key areas of advice were raised in connection with the improvement of retentionand engagement:• increased communication between lecturers and senior management,• greater links between staff and student placements,• more contact time with students and• smaller group sizes• extending Freshers week,• supporting the transition to year 2 earlier by changing year one unit level descriptors to meet the requirements needed for year 2,• and the introduction of a 4 year nursing course to provide a further year of learning for students.Some lecturers felt that senior management did not provide enough visibleengagement at a curriculum planning level. They wanted to see moreinvolvement of management at planning meetings and increased communicationbetween lecturers and managers. More focus on attrition rates was advised:• We’re obviously producing a new curriculum for October and I’ve been very disappointed in the engagement of any of the managers and I’ve been very surprised that they haven’t prioritized the new curriculum over anything else… things like student support and particularly attrition is never ever mentioned at any planning meetings and I would have thought that would have been…we know attrition rates to be high and it seems to have absolutely no impact on what we are doing at allAddressing student support issues and fixing attrition rate problems wererecommended as a focus for senior management. The lecturers wanted theHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 94 of 129
  • 95. reasons for student withdrawal from the course to be explored to raise awarenessof the issues.It was also suggested that the student selection process may have an impact onretention, with some students being accepted onto the nursing programme withincorrect entry qualifications. This could subsequently cause students to struggleor fail.It was felt that stronger links should be made between personal tutors and thepractice placements, for example, visiting students on placement to increaseinvolvement and understanding of their progress. Although believed to bebeneficial for bridging the gap between lecturing and practice for the personaltutors, time constraints were acknowledged to be a practical difficulty:• I know it’s all time and we haven’t got a lot of time but if we were faces that were known to placements we could perhaps build links we might then know more about the student experience as well and what they are actually doing in placement…It is a huge commitment but it might help overall the student experience and the students would also know that we know exactly what’s going on in placement whereas now we listen to what they say and try and get a balanced view of what they are sayingImproving communication between university link coordinators, personal tutorsand placement mentors was an alternative suggestion to face-to-face visits.Reflecting the students’ expectations of spending more time in university, somelecturers agreed that contact time with students should be increased. It was feltthat being able to see students more regularly would enable lecturers to get toknow their students better and help engage students more effectively in theprocesses of coming to university and becoming a nurse. One lecturer reflectedthat teaching had recently become overshadowed by a focus on research andenterprise at the university and an emphasis on teaching needed to be restoredby increasing the number of days students attend lectures:• If we don’t have students we’re not going to be doing research or enterprise because there won’t be a university so the students really are central and across the university students are being frustratedHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 95 of 129
  • 96. Investment in teaching was recommended for improving retention but alsohighlighted a tension in relation to university policy, with one tutor commenting‘the university says you should only do this much’.Most lecturers valued the idea of smaller student group to help create a sense ofbelonging for students. Although it was acknowledged that this would beresource intensive initially, it was believed that the investment would improve theengagement of students and have other positive outcomes. Whilst small groupswere perceived to be useful for building student confidence, lecturers also feltthat students needed to have the ability to adapt to other learning contexts, forexample, participating in large lectures.It was felt by one lecturer that more understanding of the role of identity wasneeded as it can be problematic for some students trying to engage in theprocess of ‘being’ a student and ‘being’ a nurse.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 96 of 129
  • 97. ConclusionsPlease identify any specific findings or insights that contribute to the grantsprogramme meta-analysis questions to inform learning for the wider sector:Strand AStudent Doubters• Are doubters actually more likely to become leavers than non-doubters?At this stage we can’t say. However, there are very strong differences betweenthe satisfaction of doubters and non-doubters at both institutions we have sortedthe data. The focus groups also suggest that there may be common factors thatdifferentiate between the two groups, with doubters being less feeling lessengaged with the university community and far less likely to feel that they arecoping with their studies.• Are there any factors amongst doubters that appear to be stronger predictors for withdrawing? (For example do doubters who leave have lower levels of satisfaction with course factors, future goals or friendships?)Course-related issues are by far the most likely to make students considerwithdrawing. This makes sense, students may enjoy the social life, but ultimatelyare present at university for a purpose: to achieve a degree and employment.Other factors such as student lifestyle, finance and homesickness whilst clearlyvery important to some students are much less frequently mentioned.The strongest individual risk factor gathered from the qualitative feedbackappears to be students not finding their subject inherently interesting. So if theintrinsic value and enjoyment associated with the subject is low or absent,students are far more likely to have doubts. The second factor is confidence atcoping with studies. The partners’ work on transition suggests that students thatstudents are coming from an environment in which they are well supported, itmay be that more can be done to support students to feel that they are coping.It is interesting to note that those students aiming for lower first year and finaldegree classifications are more likely to have doubts. The next highest risk factoris that students who do not feel that their lecturers are accessible and thisreinforces our suspicions about the second.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 97 of 129
  • 98. Demographic factors don’t appear to be a strong predictor, although it’sinteresting that at both Bournemouth and NTU, female students are more likely tohave considered withdrawing. Given that males are ultimately more likely towithdraw, we may have some interesting comments to make later in the projectabout the nature of male/ female withdrawal from university.• Amongst doubters who stay, what factors helped them remain at university? What were the most important issues and how can institutions make use of these findings?The most important factor that helped students stay at university is related to thesupport offered by friends and family. Of these two factors, it is friends made atuniversity, the new surrogate family that is most important. We would suggestthat this means institutions need to dedicate more time creating socialenvironments that enable students to support one another. This may befacilitated through curriculum design, institutional approaches to induction anddesign of the campus.The qualitative data from the focus groups suggested that the feeling ofbelonging was important and having a good relationship with a member ofacademic staff (all non doubters felt that they belonged, all had goodrelationships with at least one member of staff). However there does need to becaution here as all the students here weren’t representative of the studentpopulation as a whole (i.e. more mature/female).In the Bournemouth University nursing programme surveys, the future goals,particularly around vocation, appeared to have the strongest impact on thecommitment to stay.Strand BProgrammes with better than peer rates of retentionHave we uncovered any practices that appear to have a positive impact onretention?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 98 of 129
  • 99. Although the findings gathered at Bournemouth are interesting, at this stage it’stoo early to draw any conclusions about the positive impact of particularpractices.Overall conclusionsOur research suggests that if we are to improve retention, we need to work ontwo areas. Firstly to reduce the impact of those factors that make studentsconsider leaving in the first place and secondly to augment those factors thatappear to have a positive impact on doubters (and we hypothesise) leavers. Itappears clear that the two are not simply opposites. We will work on developingmodels to help staff think about the issues.Although only tentative, we believe that we have uncovered somethinginteresting about students’ perceptions of learning and teaching with regards toretention, namely that it appears to be a hygiene factor rather than a motivator.We will explore this further.3.1 How can the learning experience be managed to promote student success?The most common reasons cited in the pilot study for withdrawing and in thetransitions survey for considering withdrawal were course related. Students’dissatisfaction appears focussed on the experience of studying. Other factorssuch as lifestyle, finance and homesickness clearly all played a part, but it wasdissatisfaction with the course that appeared to have the strongest impact. Thisleads us to tentatively suggest that professional and support services have alower impact on decisions about doubting. That is not to say that they don’t havean important role for students considering leaving or actively choosing to do so,but that the source of dissatisfaction and possible early solutions is likely to bewithin the curriculum.We would therefore suggest that energy is concentrated on supporting studentswithin the curriculum, particularly in areas such as understanding the differencesand building confidence that they can cope with the learning experience.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 99 of 129
  • 100. Those (albeit few) students who felt they had received inaccurate informationabout their university were much more likely to have doubts.3.2 How can institutions and partnerships (e.g. Aimhigher) ensure that students are sufficiently prepared to make the transition into HE?Those students in the transitions survey who felt that they didn’t understand thedifference between learning at University and their previous studies weresignificantly more likely to have considered leaving than those who did not. Itwould appear therefore important that students are primed before coming touniversity to explore the differences between the two and are helped to adapt tolearning and teaching in HE. However discussion with the Flying Start NTFproject leads us to believe that pre-entry workshops can be problematical,particularly when issues such as academic writing are taught to students who findit confusing to try and synthesise two approaches to writing at the same time. Itmay therefore be more appropriate to concentrate on expectations in a moregeneral learning sense or even models and approaches to study.We do feel that there is much work to be done to support a greater awareness-raising of issues surrounding approaches to learning in HE whilst students are stillin FE. We would tentatively suggest that staff working in both sectors ought to begiven greater opportunities for dialogue between the two sectors and will reporton findings from a shadowing project being conducted at NTU (2009-10).3.3 How can the curriculum be designed and delivered to promote the success of all students?Although not yet confirmed by data on leavers, we appear to have found aninteresting issue. Poor learning and teaching appears to lead to activedissatisfaction, but good learning and teaching does not appear been aparticularly important factor with regards to making students want to stay. Wherestudents describe the positive impact of learning and teaching, it is in the contextof support from institutional staff or adapting to the learning and teaching in HEwith only a few stating that they have started to enjoy university. For moststudents it would appear that good learning and teaching is a hygiene factor: itsHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 100 of 129
  • 101. absence is a de-motivator, but as its presence is expected as a minimum andtherefore does not, in itself, motivate.There are three areas in which we would suggest action needs to be taken todevelop the curriculum:Firstly, given the importance of friendships for retention, we would stronglysuggest that the curriculum is designed to maximise opportunities to makefriends during induction and throughout the first year. This is likely to meanplenty of small group work and more opportunities for discussion. It is likely tomean putting more staff resources into the first year rather than later years.The second area is to work on helping students understand the differencesbetween learning in the two sectors. We would suggest that this needs to gobeyond simple explanation during induction, but is comprised of smallerinterconnected tasks in the first term to practice the different academic skillsbefore tackling longer assignments. Clearly at some point (probably the firstyear) support will need to be gradually withdrawn. Given the consistently poorscores about feedback in the NSS, this may also mean more emphasis onproviding formative feedback and developing the skills to learn from it andhelping students to develop better self-reflection skills. It may also beappropriate to for programme teams to have a clearer dialogue amongstthemselves about expectations upon students at each level and how they willsupport student transition into the later levels of study.Thirdly, given the impact on not finding the subject interesting, it seems thatmaking the subject interesting is extremely important for student motivation.Clearly no lecturer would disagree with the statement, and ‘interest’ is likely to bea highly subjective experience. Nonetheless it may be worth reiterating stronglywithin staff development events.3.4 How can formal and informal extra-curricular activities support students and promote their engagement in higher education?Informal social support has appeared as an extremely important factor in ourresearch. As the number one reason amongst first years to consider remaining,clearly the role of friends formed at university is vital. Although the NTU focusgroups following the transition survey met only a few students, there appeared toHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 101 of 129
  • 102. be a difference in approach between doubters and non-doubters towards thesocial milieu. The word ‘doubter’ appeared to have an interesting relationshipwith the word ‘joiner’. Non-doubters appeared to be largely joiners: they joinedclubs and societies and gained value from doing so. The doubters tended to benon-joiners, they were largely from demographics who tend not to join (maturestudents and international students), but nonetheless the difference wasnoticeable. The surveys with leavers at Bournemouth suggest that the leavershad a similar experience to the doubters with regards to joining; whilst they haddeveloped friendships, they had not been joiners.Our suggestions would be that institutions consider ways of improving the socialmilieu for these groups. Given the additional potential difficulties engaging inextra-curricular activities for mature, local and international students, this may bebest facilitated by activities within the curriculum (see above).3.5 How can the structures and processes of the English higher education system be improved to facilitate institutions to promote the retention and success of all students?At this stage it feels to early to say other than to re-emphasise the importance ofinformal friendships and learning to cope with the transition from FE to HE.4. Dissemination of learningPlease provide details of how you have disseminated the learning from yourproject this year. We are interested in dissemination activities which are actionfocused as well as information sharing. This may, for example, involvestimulating dialogue in your institution to encourage the development ofimproved policy and practice, as well as more traditional forms of dissemination.It would be appropriate to consider dissemination within the project, across theparticipating institutions and to others in the sector and beyond. Please providethe following information:HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 102 of 129
  • 103. Event Audience Objectives Focus Format Reflections25/02/2009 Academics & Inform about HERE Introduction DiscussionFourth Annual Student HE Managers ProjectRetention Conference -NeilStewart Associates02/04/2009 NTU Annual Academics, Present research as part Transition Workshop Staff highlyLearning and Teaching learning of workshop on student interested inConference developers & transition research managers06/04/2009 - 7/04/2009 Academics, Explain research HERE Project Poster presentationALDinHE conference learning workBournemouth developers & managers24/04/2009 UK National Academics, Present information about Stepping Stones WorkshopTransition Conference: learning Stepping Stones 2HE 2HE, someresearch and good practice developers & mention of HEREin promoting student managersengagement in the firstyearUniversity College London13/05/2009 Academics, Presented workshops on Induction & Workshops Generated interest in-15/05/2009European First learning induction & transition transition our workHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 103 of 129
  • 104. Year Experience developers &Conference (EFYE) managers Groningen, Netherlands18/06/09 AimHigher West Academics, Presented two workshops Transition & Workshops & Lots of interestYorkshire learning & keynote about transition retention presentations developers, and retention aimhigher staff & managers30/06/2009 - 2/07/2009 Academics, Participated in workshop HERE project WorkshopHEA Academy Conference learning promoting whole projectManchester developers & managers nd22 International First Academics, Support Me! Develop Develop Me WorkshopYear Experience learning Me! Retain Me! How a developers &Conference, Montreal, Reflective Skills Activity managers has Increased Student Engagement, Motivation and Success.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 104 of 129
  • 105. 4.Next stage4.1.Approach to future work (including an overview of planned work and identifying any significant variations from earlier plans).See Appendix two for revised work schedule.Essentially we anticipate that we will work broadly to the original schedule.Strand a – Student DoubtersWe will conduct a more-detailed analysis of the student doubters’ survey workmaking use of actual student withdrawals data. We are unlikely to do muchadditional research other than follow up a limited number of students who havewithdrawn or who have raised interesting points in their surveys. We will monitorthose students who have given us permission to look at their student records tosee if factors such as doubting have an impact on the subsequent attainment inlater years. The data from the Bradford survey is only partially complete and sowill need to be completed during the year.Strand b – ProgrammesThe main focus for the year will be conducting the programme audits at eachpartner institution. We are slightly behind schedule analysing programmes. Atthis stage, we believe that we will be able to get back on schedule during the2009-10 academic year; although there is a potential anxiety that the detailedprogramme work may be highly complex and potentially time consuming.4.2.How is this informed by a) progress to date and b) findings to dateAs described earlier in the report, we found setting up strand b to be a morecomplex process than expected. The direction has not yet been influenced byfindings as we are waiting for the end of the academic year to confirmprogression rates from the first year into the second. Once the data is available,we will review all our data and assumptions and revise our strategy accordingly.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 105 of 129
  • 106. 4.3.Dissemination ideas or plans for 2009-10. Please include any dates of events etc to be included in the Calendar.The project team are involved to a significant event in the following disseminationevents:Student Writing in Transition SymposiumNottingham Trent University 15/09/2009Internal staff development conference, our work will be presented at one of theseminars and as a key themeRetention SummitBournemouth University 23/09/2009Research Seminar Series 2009: Access and Success for AllLearning from the Data: Using institutional data to develop an audit toolto enhance student successBradford University 15/10/2009Learnhigher end of CETL conference & LDHEN SymposiumNTU 30 March – 1 April 2010In addition, we intend to present at a selection of relevant conferences, probablyincluding the European First Year Experience, May 2010.4.4.Support required next year. Please identify any ways in which the Support and Co-ordination Team can assist your work next year.We would be grateful for significant inputs into the methodology discussionsHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 106 of 129
  • 107. 5.OutcomesWhat do you feel are the most significant outcomes of this year’s work? What doyou feel others can learn from your experiences this year?The main project outcome is that we now have a large body of data about thefirst student experience at University and those factors associated with doubting.In October – December 2009, we will add the data about actual studentwithdrawal and be able to map whether or not student doubters are more likelyto withdraw, or if there are any key factors more relevant to leavers.Therefore the project is well underway, but we feel that we can only maketentative claims about doubting in HE.The main lessons that we will transfer to future projects are about projectmanagement. We will need to dedicate more time to project initiation, ratherthan just moving into the research stage.We are currently working on the methodology for a large scale cross institutionalproject, at present we feel that we need more work on methodology.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 107 of 129
  • 108. Appendix AStudent Transition SurveyHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 108 of 129
  • 109. The HERE Project 2009 Student Transition QuestionnaireOn the email put…NTU has been asked to conduct academic research to better understand theexperience of students starting university. We have been asked to do thisresearch by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) becausewe have an excellent reputation in retaining students. This research (the HEREProject) will be used to improve the experience of future students here at NTUand at other universities.Most questions will require a simple click in a box; some will require more open-ended comments. When we piloted this survey it took an average of five minutesto complete. All completed questionnaires will be entered for a prize draw to win£50 of Amazon vouchersIf you choose not to participate in this survey it will not affect your studies in anyway. If you would like to withdraw at any point you are free to do so with noaffect on your studies. If you would like to discuss any issues connected toparticipation in the project please contact sarah.lawther@ntu.ac.uk.If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this questionnaire andwould like any further information or would like to discuss this with anyone, youmay wish to visit the NTU Student Support Services webpage for furtherinformation or speak to your personal tutor.The Market Research TeamNottingham Trent UniversityFebruary 2009HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 109 of 129
  • 110. bout the researchNTU has been asked to conduct academic research to better understand theexperience of students starting university by the Higher Education FundingCouncil for England (HEFCE) because we have an excellent reputation in retainingstudents. This research (the HERE Project) will be used to improve the experienceof future students here at NTU and at other universities.What data do we need?We are interested in your experience here at NTU, in particular, how you arefinding learning here and if you have had doubts about staying on your course. Itwould be very helpful for our research if we could also look at your course marksduring your time at university and incorporate these with other research findings.This will only be done with your permission and we will ask you about this at theend of this survey.What will be done with the data?We take the protection of your identity seriously. The data will be analysed andanonymised: when we report our findings your answers will not be linked to youas an individual. Anonymised data and findings may be shared with various staffmembers of the university to help identify the ways in which we can improve theexperience of future students here at NTU (for example to develop activities suchas Welcome Week). Anonymised data and findings may also be used in academicpapers and shared with other universities. If you wish to withdraw from the studyat any time please notify either sarah.lawther@ntu.ac.uk or ed.foster@ntu.ac.uk.*I agree that my anonymised answers can be used here at NTU, in academicpapers, and shared within the HE sector.Most questions will require a simple click in a box; some will require more open-ended comments. All completed questionnaires will be entered for a prize draw towin £50 of Amazon vouchers.Thanks for your time.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 110 of 129
  • 111. Q1 Can you tell us your student ID number? We will use this number tocontact you if you win the prize draw. If you choose to withdraw, we will use thisnumber to trace your answers and delete them from the research. When weanalyse the data we will separate your answers from your ID number. My ID number isQ2 How much have you enjoyed your course so far? Please use a scale of 1-5, where 1= “not at all” and 5= “verymuch”Q3 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)? Yes Go to Q4 No Go to Q5Q4 Was the information from NTU before starting your course; Very accurate Reasonably accurate Not very accurate Very inaccurateQ5 Please rate the following aspects of your studies, where 1 = “strongly disagree” and 5 = “strongly agree”, on balance, My subject is interesting My course is well organized I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course My taught sessions (such as lectures, seminars) are interesting Lecturers are accessible I feel valued by teaching staff The assessment on my course is what I expected it to be The feedback I receive about my work is useful I feel confident that I can cope with my courseworkQ6 Please rate the following aspects of your studies, where 1 = “strongly disagree” and 5 = “strongly agree”, on balance,HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 111 of 129
  • 112. My fellow students are supportive My family is supportive I have easy access to University resources (e.g. computers, library books that I need) I would know where to go within the university if I had a problem I like the house/flat/halls that I am living in I have an enjoyable social life I am confident that I will have enough money to complete my course Completing my degree will help me achieve future goals (eg career)Q7 Please rate how important the following aspects are to you, where 1 = “not important at all” and 5 = “very important”… My subject is interesting My course is well organized I have enthusiastic lecturers teaching on my course My taught sessions (such as lectures, seminars) are interesting Lecturers are accessible I feel valued by teaching staff The assessment on my course is what I expected it to be The feedback I receive about my work is useful I feel confident that I can cope with my courseworkQ8 Please rate how important the following aspects are to you, where 1= “not important at all” and 5 = “very important”… My fellow students are supportive My family is supportive I have easy access to University resources (e.g. computers, library books that I need) I would know where to go within the university if I had a problem I like the house/flat/halls that I am living in I have an enjoyable social life I am confident that I will have enough money to complete my course Completing my degree will help me achieve future goals (eg career)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 112 of 129
  • 113. Q9 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 (eg A’ Levels, BTEC)? Yes NoQ10 Do you feel that you understand the differences between learning at university and earlier learning? Yes, in some detail Yes, a little NoQ11 How difficult have you found your studies so far this year? Please use a scale of 1-5, where 1= “not at all difficult” and 5=“very difficult”Q12 How hard have you worked so far this year? Please use a scale of 1-5, where 1= “not at all hard” and 5= “veryhard”Q13 In your first year at Nottingham Trent University (NTU), how much focus are you putting on the following? Please use a scale of 1-5, where 1 = “no focus at all” and 5 = “a lot of focus” Family Friends from home My academic studies Part-time work Social life at university Volunteering and other community activity OtherQ14 What grade are you aiming for when you graduate? 70+ (1st) 60-69% (2:1) 50-59% (2:2) 40-49% (3rd)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 113 of 129
  • 114. 0-39% (Fail)Q15 What grade are you aiming for at the end of this academic year? 70+ (equivalent of a 1st) 60-69% (equivalent of a 2:1) 50-59% (equivalent of a 2:2) 40-49% (equivalent of a 3rd) 0-39% (equivalent of a Fail)Q16 Do you have a personal tutor? Yes Go to 17 No Go to Q18Q17 How often do you see your personal tutor? Weekly Fortnightly Monthly Less oftenQ18 Have you considered withdrawing at any point during your first year at NTU? Yes, but I have decided to stay at NTU Go to Q19 Yes, and I have decided to leave NTU Go to Q20 Yes, but I haven’t made up my mind about my future plans Go to Q20 No, I have never considered withdrawing Go to Q21Q19 What has helped you decide to stay on your course? ______________________________________________________________________________Q20 Please tell us what made you consider leaving NTU ___________________________________________________________ ___________________Q21 How do you think the University could improve the academic and pastoral support for students?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 114 of 129
  • 115. _____________________________________________________ ________________Q22 Is there anything that we haven’t asked that you’d like to share with us? ___________________________________________________________ ___________________Q23 What age are you? 16 - 18 19 - 21 22 - 25 26 - 45 46+Q24 Are you…? Male FemaleQ25 At which academic school at are you studying? Nottingham Business School Nottingham Law School School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Science School of Architecture, Design and the Built Environment School of Art and Design School of Arts and Humanities School of Education School of Science and Technology School of Social SciencesQ26 What level are you studying? Undergraduate (BA/BSc) Undergraduate (Foundation level) Further EducationQ27 Which course are you studying?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 115 of 129
  • 116. ___________________________________________________________ ___________________Q28 Are you…? Full-time Part-time Distance learnerQ29 What part of the world are you from? UK Go to Q30 European Union (EU) Go to Q31 Outside European Union Go to Q31Q30 What part of the country are you from? Nottingham Nottinghamshire East Midlands Rest of the UKQ31 At what campus are you based? City Clifton Brackenhurst None (e.g. distance learner)Q32 Which type of accommodation do you currently occupy whilst studying? NTU / UPP halls of residence Private halls of residence Private rented / shared house Living with relative(s) Own homeQ33 Please tick the category below that you feel is the most appropriate classification of yourself. Asian or Asian British - Bangladeshi. Asian or Asian British - Indian. Black or Black British - African.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 116 of 129
  • 117. Black or Black British - Caribbean. Chinese. Mixed - White and Asian. Mixed - White and Black African. Mixed - White and Black Caribbean. Other Asian background. Other Black background. Other Ethnic background. Other Mixed background. Other White background. White - British. White - Irish. Other I do not wish to declareQ34 Do you consider yourself to have a disability? No, I have no known disability go to Q36 Yes go to Q35 I do not wish to declare go to Q36Q35 If yes, please specify dyslexia visual impairment deaf/hard of hearing mobility or wheelchair user mental health autistic spectrum hidden disability more than one disability disability not listed above I do not wish to specifyQ36 Did you apply to NTU…? Through the standard UCAS process Through UCAS at clearingQ37 Was this your first choice of university?HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 117 of 129
  • 118. Yes NoQ38 Is this your first time living independently? Yes NoQ39 Are you the first person in your immediate family (we meanparents, brothers, sisters) to go to university? Yes NoQ40 How could we improve this survey?______________________________________________________________________________We would like to conduct further research, for example, focus groups. Ifyou would like to be invited to take part in further research please tickthe box below.t I agree to be invited by email to take part in further research___________________________________________________________________________________The HERE project will run for three years. Do you give permission foryour course marks and enrolment status to be accessed from Universityrecords and incorporated anonymously with other research findings? Ifyou do, please tick the box below.y I agree to allow my course marks and enrolment status to be accessed fromUniversity records during the time I am registered here and incorporatedanonymously with other research findings. To ensure the protection of youridentity, we will store this information separately from your student ID number.HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 118 of 129
  • 119. ___________________________________________________________________________________Thank you for your feedback. By clicking on the submit button now, wewill enter you into the prize draw to win £50 worth of Amazon vouchers.If you are a winner we will contact you via your student email. Goodluck!HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 119 of 129
  • 120. Final page confirmation (after respondents click submit)Thank you very much for completing this survey, your responses have beensubmitted.Remember, if you would like to withdraw at any point from this survey you arefree to do so with no affect on your studies. If you would like to discuss anyissues connected to participation in the project please contactsarah.lawther@ntu.ac.uk.If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this questionnaire andwould like any further information or would like to discuss this with anyone, youmay wish to visit the NTU Student Support Services webpage for furtherinformation or speak to your personal tutor._________________________________________________________________HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 120 of 129
  • 121. HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 121 of 129
  • 122. HERE ProjectSteering Group & Planning Group Meetings & dissemination routes2009-10 Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June JulySteering Steering SGGroup Group Bournemouth 9th Sept (proposed 22 (NTU) June – C Keenan to check availability at B’Mouth)Planning Planning Planning 21 Jan PlanningGroup Group 7 meeting planning Group 16 group Meeting October meeting (NTU) 1 AprilOther Retention 20 Jan LDHEN EYFE HE AcademyDissemination Seminar Retention Conferenc Conferenc Conference Series Grants e (NTU) e (proposed) Bradford Programm 29-31 (proposed) University e Planning March 15 Oct meeting (London)7 To discuss Bradford Symposium, Progress Brochure, Standard format & process for the programme auditsHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 122 of 129
  • 123. 2009-10 Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June July2010-11 SG (prov Planning SG Final Planning 1st week) Meeting Meeting MeetingOtherDisseminationHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 123 of 129
  • 124. HERE ProjectReports & Outcomes Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June July2009 Draft HEA Research Literature Research Research-10 Programm Interim Outline & Review of Report Report on e Audit Report Initial material on First Programme Tool (end findings relevant to Doubters Audits (all) Developed of brochure doubters & Survey including Sept) for HEA programme (including development Symposium analysis leavers of audit tool (16 Oct) data) (all) Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June July2010 2nd Research Research End of-11 HEA Report on report on Project interim final year 2nd Report Report Programm Doubters e Audits Survey (all) (all)NB Does not include academic papers which would be written in accordance with different deadlinesHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 124 of 129
  • 125. HERE ProjectProject Work Aug Sept Oct Nov D Jan Feb Mar April May June July e c2009-10 Data Telephone More Write analysis interviews detailed- upStudent to confirm with analysis of researcDoubters destinatio withdrawn Doubters’ h for n of students Data set interim student who have report responde given nts in permission 2008/09 to follow up doubters’ (all) survey Speak to doubters’ who have continued studies - if time is available, also interview non- doubters (all)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 125 of 129
  • 126. 2009-10 Choose Set up Conduct Cond ReviewProgramm progs prog staff uct Programme Audits for audit interviews interviews & stude e Audit (all) & analyse surveys of 3 nt Tool 2ndry progs (all) intervi against data ews research (prog and findings handbook surve s etc) ys for progr amme audits (all)2009-10 Write Set up WriteMisc interim Project literatureProject report website review (EF)work (EF)HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 126 of 129
  • 127. Outputs stated in original bid Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar April May June July2010-11 Survey Doubters’ Survey TrackStudent students Survey – participants academicDoubters pre- new in 2009 performance arrival at cohort of Doubters’ of original University first year Survey to students in students review the (all) - experiences doubters’ contains (all) survey fewer questions & possible personality test2010-11 Choose 3 Set up Conduct ConductProgramme progs prog staff studentAudits (all) interviews interviews interviews – & 2ndry (all) prog audit analysis (All) (all)2010-11MiscProjectworkHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 127 of 129
  • 128. We additionally stated that we would produce a website to share resources and set up a special interest group for those interested in thesubjectSome of the outcomes have been picked up by the HE Academy’s involvement, particularly the special interest group and, to a certainextent, the literature reviewHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 128 of 129
  • 129. HERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 129 of 129