Informal (how are you doing? Finding the course?)Formal (module feedback, course reps) – course rep in sessions – after first few weeks – pitch to each other about why would like to be course rep and vote. How is this shared within the team?How is this fed back to students? How are changes that can’t be made fed back to students?
What Works HERE Project
The HERE Project ToolkitEd Foster & Sarah Lawther - Nottingham Trent UniversityChristine Keenan & Natalie Bates – Bournemouth UniversityBecka Colley & Ruth Lefever – University of Bradford
Structure of sessionProject overviewIntroduction to ToolkitTheme 3 Relationship and communication withstaffTheme 5 Social integrationSummary
HERE ProjectHigher Education: Retention & EngagementTwo areas of work- Students who have considered withdrawing- What can we learn from programmes?Focus on first year
MethodologyStrand 1 – Doubting•Student research•1/3 of students have considered withdrawing•Doubters experience difference from non doubters?•Consider factors that reduce leaving and increase staying•Findings led to programme survey questions
Strand 2 – Programme research•10 programmes across three institutions•Appreciative enquiry approach - what works?•Survey of students on same programme•Case study questions and examples•9 Themes6
Findings•Different programmes addressed different themes according to nature of cohort•No magic bullets, but lots of small interventions that when combined make a difference•Influences how we work with programmes•Knowing your students7
The HERE Project toolkit•Based on –9 recommendations to improve retention and engagement –Each with suggested actions –Diagnosis comes as part of the first theme –Suggest teams implement strategies that work for them
Using the ToolkitStage 1 Stage 2 Stage 1Take Stock Consider „student Review„Identify students transition‟ &at risk‟ „social integration‟ Subsequent teamProgramme Team meeting/ meetingsleader away day ReviewLook at formal & Reflect on own progress, reflectinformal data practices, discuss and considerAsk questions recommendations other themes- What do you & make plans already know?
Evaluation•What worked for you?•Using your findings to inform future planning•Enabling others to learn from your findings
Using the Toolkit•Currently pilot•Summary•Cards – intention is to prompt thinking•How do you address themes? What works well? What could you share? What could be improved?
We will focus upon 3 Improve the relationship and communication with staff 5 Social integration
3 Relationship and communication with staff•3.1 How do you support the staff/ student relationship?•3.2 How do you communicate with students about the programme?•3.3 How do you communicate within the programme team about students?•3.4 How do students communicate to the programme about improvements/issues and how are responses to these communicated back to the students?
•What do you already do?•What works well?•What could be improved? (how?)
3.1 Enhancing the staff/student relationship –Doubters less likely to say that they felt at least one member of their course team knew them personally (2011) at all three institutions –Less likely to say that they felt confident about talking to a tutor if they had a problem or concern
3.1 Enhancing the staff/student relationship•Focus group findings – „feeling known‟ (2008)•Students were most likely to speak to (NTU 2011) –Tutor/lecturer/module or course leader (137) –Friends or course mates (39) –Personal tutor (22) –Family (11) –Central services (such as Counselling, Disability support, Careers, Academic support) (11)
3.1 Enhancing the staff/student relationshipAssociation with doubting (NTU, 2009)•I feel confident that I can cope with my coursework•My subject is interesting•I feel valued by teaching staff•I am confident that I will have enough money to complete my course•My taught sessions (such as lectures, seminars) are interesting.
• What is that makes students feel valued? (Thomas, 2002, p. 432)•Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) –Relationships to build learning –Misconceptions of roles –Lecturer as interlocutor•Contact with academic staff becoming more significant for continuation (Yorke and Longden, 2008, p. 2) –Large cohort seem small “encourage a perception of smallness” (ibid, p. 50)
3.2 Communicating with students about theprogramme•Doubters more likely to report that the course was disorganised•Doubters were more likely to describe prior information about the course as inaccurate•Changes during year „just in time‟ information•Communicating when away and on return•During summer - resits•Programme roles and processes (what are exam boards?)
3.3 Communicating within the programmeteam about students•Whole team approach to transition (Pargetter et al 1998)•How do you know which students are not engaging? At risk of leaving?•Monitoring of student behaviour?•How is this communicated to the team?•Formal and informal opportunities
3.4 Adopting a whole team approach tocommunicating changes to students•How do students give feedback to the course about the course?•How are changes made communicated back to students?•Different types of feedback from students to the course –Informal and formal –How is this shared within the team? –How is this fed back to students? –How are changes that can‟t be made fed back to students?
Improve social integration• Pilot study – surveyed leavers – would have probably stayed if they‟d known about the students‟ union clubs and societies• 2009 survey – most frequently reported reason for staying cited by doubters was “friends and family” (friends made at university = most important single group)• “My new friends have been able to help me get through many hardships, so they are part of the reason why I have been able to stay”• 2011 survey – students who had never considered leaving reported a larger circle of friends than their doubting peers• Role of friendship is complex
Impact of friendship = complex• Figure 26 Student Transition Survey 2011 (NTU) How many ‘good’ friends have you made since starting at university? 24.0% 7+ 32.0% 15.8% 5-6 18.6% 31.5% Doubters 3-4 30.7% Non doubters 21.2% 1-2 14.4% 7.5% None 4.2% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35%
What we found• Doubters are less likely to report that their course is friendly.• Student doubters also cited the lack of social opportunities as a factor that led them to consider doubting.• We note with some concern that between 2009 and 2011, students report a lower level of satisfaction with their social lives. Between the two surveys, if anything, the partner institutions have sought to improve the social and community opportunities available through better design and use of campus space.
5. Improve social integration• Consider social integration under the following sub-headings:5.1 Enhancing pre-arrival activities including social networking5.2 Enhancing programme induction5.3 Extending the use of group work (eg field trips)5.4 Considering the use of peer support (Buddies and Supplemental Instruction: PAL)
Social integration within the academic sphere: examples of implementation5.1 Benefits in social networking but considerably more in providing dedicated pre-arrival activities embedded within online social interactions.5.2 Imaginative induction curriculum that maximises opportunities for students to build their social and academic integration5.3 Importance of group work during the transition/induction period – supports friendship making and builds support networks5.4 Tremendous value of working with and having access to higher level students – formal schemes eg PAL, informal networks eg disability mentoring, PGR mentors
Discussion points:• What opportunities are available for students to get to know each other prior to starting at university?• What is the role of friendship during the transition and induction phase?• How can the university/course team successfully support effective social and academic integration at this stage in the student journey?• How can the university build on the sense of excitement and professional challenge that the students arrive with?• How could online activities/discussions be utilized to promote a sense of belonging?• In what ways could group activities for students be increased in the first few weeks of term?• What are the most effective ways to explain differences between learning at university and learning prior to university?
References• Keenan, C., 2008. Students getting down to work before they start at university: a model for improving retention. In: G. CROSLING, L. THOMAS and M. & HEAGNEY, eds, Improving Stu-dent Retention in Higher Education: The Role of Teaching and Learning. Abingdon: Routledge• Pargetter, R., McInnis, C., James, R., Evans, M., Peel, M., Dobson, I. (1998) Transition from Secondary to Tertiary: A Performance Study, [online] , availa-ble at http://www.dest.gov.au/archive/highered/eippubs/eip98- 20/contents.htm• Thomas, L., 2002. Student retention in Higher Education: the role of insti-tutional habitus, Journal of Education-al Policy, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 423–32• Yorke, M. and Longden, B., 2008. The First Year Experience of Higher Education in the UK. York: Higher Education Academy• More info at www.HEREproject.org.uk