Rich body of literature out there, contact me if you need some starting points!
Then as a plenary group activity, group them into coherent categories
Travel – wrong mode of transport for destination, lack of planning etc
Possible Clicker activity to give them a choice and vote which was top.
Relevant Student centred Strategy level Multi-pronged: Addressing multiple aspects of student experience; range of interventions Collaborative Range of interventions Across student lifecycle Co-ordinated Whole staff responsibility Transparent
Intervention level Timely – at the right time and in advance Collaborative
Atlaanz becka currant final
Why Am I Here? Why Should I Stay?
Understanding student expectations,
experiences and reasons for engaging with
tertiary level studies.
Dean of Students
National Teaching Fellow
University of Bradford, UK
What do we want to do?
• Explore the student experience of learning
in tertiary education.
• Be aware of current research into the
• Explore different influences which may
impact on student engagement.
• Identify how we deal with changing times.
In pairs, discuss the student quotes
• Decide if they are related to issues that are:
– academic e.g. on your module, within the course
– professional service e.g. learning development
– organisational e.g. infrastructure, regulations
• What would you do to support the student?
How would you do this?
• From the audience, give me an example of
something which was:
3. Professional service
• What did you suggest should happen? How
would you have supported the student?
• Who/what are modern students?
• A vision of students today Wesch (2007)
• Engaging Students at Bradford (Currant, 2009)
• What issues do they face?
• What challenges does this pose for us?
• How do we respond to differences from the
Stating the Obvious But…
…Tertiary Education is changing:
• In the UK: “The university system is in need of
‘radical change’ to provide a better deal for
taxpayers and students” (Willetts, 10 June 2010)
• The role of Learning Development is
sometimes mis-understood or indeed not
understood at all
• How is the sector going to respond?
• What will you do differently?
• Over last 20 years Higher education has
undergone radical and unprecedented
change (Education Act, 1992; Dearing Report, 1997; Roberts Report, 2003;
Leitch Report, 2006; Browne, 2010; CSR, 2010)
• Learners are entering with different
expectations and assumptions about their
• The student body has become dramatically
more heterogeneous and has fragmented
in some cases
The Impact of ‘massification’
What about Universities 2.0?
• Diversity of entry routes
• Issues of dealing with developing autonomy
• Earning whilst learning
• Disengaged learners seeking qualification
unsure what University life is about
• Pressures on the system and individuals
(adapted from Tinto,V. (1975) "Dropout from Higher
Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research"
Review of Educational Research vol.45, pp.89-125.
Draper, 2008 found at:
accessed 4 Nov 2010)
Why are you here?
• Why you decided to come today?
• What your expectations were?
• What your objectives were?
• How many new people have you spoken
• How does it feel to be here?
Expectations prior to arrival
“I hope I can become more confident as
well as stretch myself in lots of new ways,
push my boundaries. I hope University
can support me in this and help me when
“I expect to sign up to do a hundred and
one things and then get stressed because
I can't cope with them all. Or I expect I will
try too hard and therefore overload myself
with unnecessary pressure and get
How do students think they learn best?
“I prefer practical learning as I like to do things
and get bored when just listening to someone
talking. I do quite well when working in a group
as well as it gives me more ideas and opinions”
“Through repetition. I like to study independently initially but
then to consolidate the learning I like to discuss it and have
feedback on it. I have a low attention span and so find a lot of
reading and quiet time very hard work. I like to interact with
people and so the discussion and debate of ideas appeals to
“I learn best from doing things or thinking
through a problem with other people or by
writing something down, drawing it. I don't
learn much by just reading something”
“I think the best part for me was meeting so
many new people. I didn't know anyone else
before I came here, and I was worried about
not making friends, not fitting in etc. But on my
very first day (the welcome talk), I already got
talking to a few people, and that really worked
wonders for my confidence. Since I've got
here, I've got to know so many different
people, and it's just been amazing!”
What is their best experience?
“The tutorials were very helpful to guide the
students during the year. Also seminars and
other supporting classes. I felt that the lecturers
were people who we can speak with and this is
necessary for a non English student”
What do we mean by ‘engagement’?
‘Student engagement’ is a difficult term!
• Devoting time and effort
• Participating in an organisation
• Contributing to a community
• Exchanging ideas
• Student AND staff engagement important…
Why Do Students Leave University?
• Because they are not engaged
• Not engaged academically
– “I am not clever enough”
– “The course is not what I thought it would be”
• Not engaged socially
– “I feel lonely”
– “I am homesick”
– “The other students are not friendly”
What Will This Mean For Us?
• Significant changes to how we do what we do
• How will we engage diverse learners and
support a different learning experience?
• What do we know about student
expectations, experiences and reasons for
engaging with University?
• What does ‘transition’ mean to you?
Passage from one form, state, style, or
place to another.
• Transition is a key issue with regard to the
student experience (Tinto, 1987, 1993; Pitkethly & Prosser,
2001; Longden and Yorke, 2008; the STAR project, 2008; HERE project,
• Transition starts before students arrive –
from the moment they think about applying
• Transition continues throughout their
University lives – between semesters,
modules, concepts, years/stages and upon
Student Life Cycle Model
First steps in
Layer et al, 2002
Transitions Life Cycle Model
Beyond HEIn HEPre-entry
May & Thomas, 2010
Professional service system
data use at
• Balance of power between intrinsic and
• Why have students decided to enter
tertiary education at all?
• What do they expect…
– of the institution itself?
– of themselves whilst they are there?
– to do once they leave?
Why Are You Here?
• Because “I have nothing else to do”
• Because “my parents/siblings told me to come”
• Because “I don’t want to get a job”
• Because “I want to study the subject”
• What impact will this have on
engagement? Why are our students here?
Why should they stay?
1. Student doubters (first years)
–Higher number of students have doubts
than leave but what makes them stay?
–Doubter = someone who has thought
about leaving at any time but has stayed
2. Programmes with better than peer
rates of retention
–Based on the observations of significant
differences in rates of retention between
ostensibly similar programmes
Why do students doubt? Why do students stay?
Course related issues Course related issues
Student lifestyle Drive/ ambition /
Tutor / staff support or
Personal/ emotional issues Ability
Why do students stay?
What does all this mean?
• Challenges with engaging students in their
• Conflicting pressures and concerns taking
focus away from studies
• Lack of ‘academic maturity’ and poor
decision making in some cases
• Focus on positives; making time to listen
and hear…building communities
• Do you feel you belong to the institutional
– Evidence it!
• How do you create and maintain a
• Group sessions
• Interactive activities
• Online and face2face support
• Personal tutor groups
• Links with other
• Links outside the curriculum e.g. Student
Individual level: What Can We Do?
• Identify student expectations of University
• Make explicit institutional requirements
• Demystify the complex, codified structures
• Provide holistic induction experience
• Supportive assessment process
– Provide early formative assessment
– Engage with curriculum to inspire learners
• Define curriculum engagement
• Academic and Social integration
• Caldwell, J., Toman, N., and Leahy, J. (2006) Diversity and difference in the learning experience of
students in contemporary mass Higher Education. Paper presented at NUI Galway 4th Annual
Conference on Teaching & Learning 8-9 June 2006
• Cook et al, 2007; The STAR Project http://www.ulster.ac.uk/star [last accessed 16 January 2009]
• Currant, B., & Keenan, C. (2009). Evaluating Systematic Transition to Higher Education. Brookes eJournal
of Learning and Teaching, 2(4).
• Currant, B (2008) Towards a New Typology of Digital Learners: Issues for 1st Year Support Workshop
delivered at the 3rd EFYE Network Conference, May, Wolverhampton
• Currant, B and Keenan, C (2008a) Learning from learners about developing e-learning resources to
support transition to HE Proceedings of SEEL conference, July, Greenwich
• Currant, B and Keenan, C (2008b) Evaluating Systematic Transition to HE paper to be published in
Brookes e-journal of Learning and Teaching (BeJLT) in December 2008
• Dearing, R. (1997) Higher Education in the Learning Society Crown Copyright Norwich
• Draper, S (2008) Tinto’s model of Student Retention available online:
http://www.psy.gla.ac.uk/~steve/localed/tinto.html last accessed 4 Nov 2010
• Harvey, L., Drew,S. & Smith, M. (2006) ‘The first year experience, a review of the literature for the Higher
Education Academy’ [online] Retrieved 1 December 2008 from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk
• Leitch, S (2006) Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills HMSO, Norwich [available
from http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/leitch_review_index.htm] accessed 24 February 2009
• NAO (National Audit Office) (2007) Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education.
Report by the Comptroller and Auditor General. London: The Stationary Office, available from
• Peelo, M. & Wareham, T. [Editors] (2002) Failing Students in Higher Education The Society for Research
into Higher Education, Open University Press
• Quinn, J., Thomas., et al (2005) From life crisis to lifelong learning: Rethinking working-class 'drop out' from
higher education, Joseph Rowntree Foundation
• Rhodes, C. and Nevill, A. (2004) Academic and social integration in higher education: a survey of satisfaction
and dissatisfaction within a first-year education studies cohort at a new university, Journal of Further and
Higher Education, 28.2
• Roberts, G. (2003) Joint consultation on the review of research assessment: consultation by the UK funding
bodies Available from http://www.ra-review.ac.uk/reports/roberts.asp [last accessed 8 November 2007]
• Scott, P. (1995) The Meaning of Mass Higher Education Buckingham SRHE/Open University Press
• Thomas, L., 2002, ‘Student Retention in higher education: The role of institutional habitus’. Journal of
Education Policy, 17(4), pp.423–42.
• Tinto, V. (1993) Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition. (2nd Ed) Chicago:
University of Chicago Press
• Toman, N.; Leahy, J. and Caldwell, J. (2005) The Learning Culture of Students in Contemporary Mass Higher
Education. Proceedings of 3rd International Conference - What a Difference a Pedagogy Makes: Researching
Lifelong Learning & Teaching Conference (2005) Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning
• UK Government Further and Higher Education Act, (1992) (c.13) HMSO, Norwich
• Yorke M. and Longden B. (2007) The first-year experience in higher education in the UK: report on Phase 1 of
a project funded by the Higher Education Academy. Available at
http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/research/FirstYearExperience.pdf [last accessed 7 November 2008]
• Yorke, M. (1997), Undergraduate Non-completion in Higher Education in England, Report 1, HEFCE, London.,
• Yorke, M. and Longden, B. [editors] (2004) Retention and Student Success in Higher Education. The Society
for Research into Higher Education, Open University Press