HERE Project Interim Report 2008-2009


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

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HERE Project Interim Report 2008-2009

  1. 1. What Works? StudentRetention and SuccessProgrammeInterim report 2008-9The HERE ProjectSubmitted: 25th September 2009 to Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 1 of 129
  2. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 16. Strand AStudent DoubtersHERE Project Interim Report 2008-09 Page 16 of 129
  17. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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