Atlaanz becka currant final


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keynote delivered at Atlaanz conference 25 November 2010.

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  • In pairs, record electronically?
  • 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
    Range of interventions
    Across student lifecycle
    Whole staff responsibility

    Intervention level
    Timely – at the right time and in advance

  • Atlaanz becka currant final

    1. 1. Why Am I Here? Why Should I Stay? Understanding student expectations, experiences and reasons for engaging with tertiary level studies. Becka Currant Dean of Students National Teaching Fellow University of Bradford, UK
    2. 2. What do we want to do? • Explore the student experience of learning in tertiary education. • Be aware of current research into the student experience. • Explore different influences which may impact on student engagement. • Identify how we deal with changing times.
    3. 3. But first… An activity  In pairs, discuss the student quotes • Decide if they are related to issues that are: – social – 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?
    4. 4. Debrief… • From the audience, give me an example of something which was: 1. Social 2. Academic 3. Professional service 4. Organisational • What did you suggest should happen? How would you have supported the student?
    5. 5. Students 2.0? • 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 ‘norm’?
    6. 6. 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?
    7. 7. • 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 experiences • The student body has become dramatically more heterogeneous and has fragmented in some cases The Impact of ‘massification’
    8. 8. 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
    9. 9. Tinto’s Model (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: last accessed 4 Nov 2010)
    10. 10. Why are you here? Think about: • Why you decided to come today? • What your expectations were? • What your objectives were? • How many new people have you spoken to? • How does it feel to be here?
    11. 11. 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 flounder” “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 stressed”
    12. 12. 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 me greatly” “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”
    13. 13. “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”
    14. 14. What do we mean by ‘engagement’? ‘Student engagement’ is a difficult term! Psychological investment: • Devoting time and effort • Participating in an organisation • Contributing to a community • Exchanging ideas • Student AND staff engagement important…
    15. 15. 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”
    16. 16. 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?
    17. 17. Transition • What does ‘transition’ mean to you?
    18. 18. Transition: Passage from one form, state, style, or place to another.
    19. 19. • 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, 2019) • 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 exit Transition
    20. 20. Student Life Cycle Model Better preparation Fair admissions First steps in HE Flexible progression Student success Layer et al, 2002
    21. 21. Transitions Life Cycle Model Clear expectations Explicit requirements Support during studies Flexible assessment, regular feedback Student success Currant, 2009
    22. 22. Beyond HEIn HEPre-entry Academic system Social system Organisational system Professional services system Student relations Dispositions & capacities Student engagement & belonging HE system May & Thomas, 2010
    23. 23. Example interventions Extended and integrated induction Peer learning Personal tutors/ advisers Problem /enquiry based learning Formative feed- forward/ feedback Academic system Curricula design and contents Curriculum delivery Assessment and feedback Academic development
    24. 24. Example interventions Accredited /integrated volunteering Learning communities Ning Facebook Twitter etc Extended opening hours Social system Co-curricula activities Social spaces and facilities Travel & accomm- odation Social networking
    25. 25. Example interventions Peer mentoring Early and extended induction Student helpdesk Exit support Professional service system Pre-entry (e.g. admissions, outreach, marketing) Pastoral (e.g. counselling, financial support, SU) Learning & teaching (library, academic skills, disability service) Progression (e.g. graduation, careers)
    26. 26. Example interventions Inclusive and accountable validation process Triangulated data use at programme level Staff recruitment, reward and recognition Mapping student engagement opportunities Organisational system Corporate mission, vision and strategic plan Leadership, whole staff responsibility and CPD Inclusive and aligned policies/ procedures Co-ordinated, evidence informed strategy
    27. 27. Why did you come to university?
    28. 28. Why Study? • Balance of power between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation • 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?
    29. 29. 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?
    30. 30. 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 HERE Project
    31. 31. Why do students doubt? Why do students stay? Course related issues Course related issues Student lifestyle Drive/ ambition / motivation Finances Friends Personal incidents/ problems Tutor / staff support or family support Personal/ emotional issues Ability Why do students stay?
    32. 32. What does all this mean? • Challenges with engaging students in their studies • 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
    33. 33. Building Communities • Do you feel you belong to the institutional community? – How? – Why? – Evidence it! • How do you create and maintain a community?
    34. 34. Possible examples • Group sessions • Interactive activities • Online and face2face support • Personal tutor groups • Links with other modules/courses/Schools/Colleges • Links outside the curriculum e.g. Student Union
    35. 35. 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
    36. 36. Intervention level: Core principles Intervention level Proactive Inclusive Flexible Transparent Ongoing Timely Integrated Collaborative
    37. 37. If you can only make one change…
    38. 38. Smiling helps with… • Belonging • Building a community • Staff morale • Student satisfaction • Initial impressions • League tables • Putting a human face on the experience • Smiley KPI!
    39. 39. Any Questions?!
    40. 40. <Thank you!/>
    41. 41. References • 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 [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: 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 • Leitch, S (2006) Prosperity for all in the global economy - world class skills HMSO, Norwich [available from] 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
    42. 42. References • 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 [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 [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