Student Retention Project; University of Newcastle: Teaching and Learning Seminar December 10th 2010

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  • A little background briefly about the project before we go into any more details.The project is part of the HEFCE/Paul Hamlyn Foundation What Works? Student retention and Success Programme running nationally.Essentially, Leicester is good at keeping students from a range of backgrounds and seems to provide them with a reasonable experience (NSS data), but doesn’t have a clear understanding of why this is the case.Likely to be a combination of factors – student expectations and application, departmental practices and interventions, support services, institutional strategies – which will have a differential impact on students depending on their backgrounds.Then aim of the project is to explore what students feel makes the difference to them and to identify practices that lead to this and can, perhaps, be replicated.Collaboration between University central provision - SSDS (student services) and Research and Academic Services - and academic colleagues – GENIE (Genetics CETL) and School of Biological Sciences.
  • Based on 2010 Sunday Times University GuideNSS data is one of the newspaper’s nine criteria used in compiling their tablesThese are the top 22 institutions in the table of that year (Newcastle just scrapes in)
  • Same institutions but based on HESA data of non-continuation rates into second yearHitting or exceeding benchmark (17):OxfordCambridgeUCLSt AndrewsDurhamYorkBristolBathSouthamptonKingsNottinghamLoughboroughExeterSheffieldLeicesterBirminghamNewcastle
  • Same institutions but based on HESA data of proportions of young first degree entrants recruited from state schools and collegesHitting or exceeding benchmark (5):YorkSouthamptonSheffieldLancasterLeicester
  • Just before I finish and hand over to Kine and Craig to talk more about the research so far, I just wanted to share a few important concept with you relating to this whole area.I found these in the latest HEA Briefing document which contains a summary of US research on this area. I think the first two are important as they distinguish between two different perspectives on the same area – two sides of the coin, as it were.Persistence – what is important from a student perspective and the various influences – personal, social and academic - on this.Retention – the institutional perspective – hanging onto students – and how a student interacts with the various systems within the institution.Engagement - an attempt to put into words what is often talked about. Narrows it down to ‘time’ and ‘effort’ rather than a more nebulous ‘engagement’.
  • Informal Academic
  • Formal Non-Academic
  • Informal Non-Academic
  • Student Retention Project; University of Newcastle: Teaching and Learning Seminar December 10th 2010

    1. 1. What makes students feel they belong at University?<br />University of Leicester Student Retention and Success Project<br />Craig Bartle<br />Kine Dorum<br />Martin Pennington<br />
    2. 2. Workshop plan<br />Background to overall programme and Leicester project<br />What does ‘belonging’ mean?<br />Overview of data relating to ‘social relationships’<br />Discussion in context of own institution<br />Finish<br />
    3. 3. What Works? Student Retention and Success Programme<br />Funded by HEFCE and Paul Hamlyn Foundation (£1m)<br />National Audit Office report on retention (2007) and Public Accounts Committee report (2008)<br />Projects that identify, evaluate and disseminate institutional good practice relating to student retention<br /> Seven projects funded across England; Leicester is the only single-institution project<br />
    4. 4. Aims of the overall programme<br />The identification, evaluation and sharing of institutional good practice in student retention and its dissemination across the sector, with an emphasis on collaborative approaches where appropriate  <br />To build the evidence base for successful student retention practice  <br />To improve the quality of student retention practice in institutions <br />To provide additional recognition for improvements in student retention work  <br />
    5. 5. Project at University of Leicester<br /> ‘Belonging’ and ‘Intimacy’ Factors in the Retention of Students: an Investigation into Student Perceptions of Effective Practice and how that Practice can be Replicated<br />Started in July 2009 and will end in July 2011<br />Core staff: project manager and two part-time research assistants<br />Management team oversees project: SSDS Director plus two senior academics<br />
    6. 6. Background to the project at Leicester<br />Leicester has consistently high scores in the National Student Survey, a high retention rate, and a high widening participation rate<br />Students feel ‘a belonging to the institution and/or department’ and place importance on ‘the intimacy of the institution and its staff’ <br />Nobody is quite sure why!<br />
    7. 7. Sunday Times University Guide 2010: National Student Survey Score based on 2009 data<br />
    8. 8. FT First Degree Entrants: Non-continuation following year of entry 2007-08 (%age)<br />
    9. 9. Young FT First Degree Entrants 2008-09: State schools and colleges (%age)<br />
    10. 10. Project at University of Leicester<br />Aiming to identify what lies behind these statements, and to explore and evaluate the practices that might foster these responses<br />Drawing out themes identified by students as ‘making a difference’<br />Analysing the impact of associated practice with key groups of students, for example early withdrawers <br />Testing themes qualitatively to determine what students actually mean by ‘a feeling of belonging’ and ‘intimacy’ and the factors contributing to them<br />
    11. 11. Methodology used<br />Combination of quantitative and qualitative methods<br />1st Year Survey and 3rd Year Survey across three departments<br />Follow-up interviews<br />Early Withdrawal Survey of University leavers 2007-08 and 2008-09<br />Video diaries (Biological Sciences students)<br />
    12. 12. Belonging<br />‘Belongingness’ hypothesis:<br /> ‘…human beings have a pervasive drive to form and maintain at least a minimum quantity of lasting, positive and significant interpersonal relationships’. (Baumeister and Leary, 1995)<br />Individuals differ in the strength of their need to belong. Some people with a lower need to belong may be satisfied by few contacts, while others with a greater need to belong may require many. (Kelly, 2001)<br />
    13. 13. Belonging<br />Feelings of belonging may have a direct and powerful influence on students’ motivation. (Goodenow, 1993)<br />Belonging in an educational context:<br /> ‘Students’ sense of being accepted, valued, included, and encouraged by others (teacher and peers) in the academic classroom setting and of feeling oneself to be an important part of the life and activity of the class. More than simple perceived liking or warmth, it also involves support and respect for personal autonomy and for the student as an individual.’ (Goodenow, 1993)<br />
    14. 14. Belonging<br />Students who engage in formal and informal academic and social integration experiences are less likely to leave their institution. (Tinto, 1975 etc.)<br />Sense of belonging is a psychological factor focusing on students’ subjective feelings of connectedness to the institution; factors associated with this are essential contributors to student persistence. (Hurtado and Carter, 1997)<br />
    15. 15. Belonging<br />The greater the level of institutional integrity and commitment to the welfare of the student, the more likely the student will achieve social integration and hence the more likely they are to persist. Similarly the stronger the perception of the communal potential of campus life, the more integrated the student is likely to become. (Braxton and Hirschy, 2004)<br />
    16. 16. Some important concepts<br />Persistence<br />Student-initiated decisions to stay (background; interaction within institution; environment; attitudes; intentions)<br />Retention<br />Reporting or tracking indicator from institutional perspective (student interaction with institution’s organisational, academic and social systems)<br />Engagement<br />Time and effort students put into study and other activities (educational, philosophical and pedagogical perspectives)<br />
    17. 17. Sense of Belonging<br />Out of the many definitions and approaches, how do we want to define the construct?<br />Literature predominantly emphasises social integration<br />We focus on social and institutional factors, feelings of inclusion and affinity with peers, staff, to the department, and to the university as a whole.<br />Operationalisation: simply rate how strongly they feel they belong. Assessing the psychological content of this is beyond our scope.<br />
    18. 18. Intimacy<br />Closeness: both in terms of physical proximity and interpersonal relationships<br />Integration: Two consistent predictors of retention and success were the degree to which students become academically and socially integrated into their environment. <br />Researchers have reported systematic cognitive and personal advantages for students who have frequent and informal contact with instructors and with peers, and who become engaged in intellectual and social pursuits on campus early in their university careers (Milem, 1998; Pascarella, 1985; Pascarella and Terenzini, 1980; Strage,1999; Terenzini and Wright, 1987; Tinto, 1975)<br />
    19. 19. Quantitative Method<br />Preliminary analyses based on National Student Survey and student records:<br />Findings showed consistent differences in scores between departments in terms of satisfaction and to a lesser extent attrition<br />Differences were linked to the social/interpersonal aspect of course structure (e.g. small group teaching, field trips), and to relationships between staff and students (e.g. personal tutors). <br />Increased frequency and quality of social interactions associated with more positive survey ratings and comments.<br />
    20. 20. Quantitative Method cont’d<br />Survey of 1st Year students in three contrasting departments:<br /><ul><li> Medicine (215 students)
    21. 21. Biological Sciences (149 students)
    22. 22. English (132 students)</li></ul>consisting of four different scales:<br />i) Importance factors (rating scale)ii) Attitudes iii) Expectations (Likert scales, 0-7)iv) Sense of belonging<br />Survey of Early Withdrawers<br />
    23. 23. Qualitative Method<br />Open-ended questions (1st Year and Early Withdrawal)<br />In-depth interviews with volunteers from 1st Year survey<br /> Video diaries<br />
    24. 24. Outcomes<br />Three main groups of factors rated as important for 1st year students’ settling in at university:1. Social relationships (e.g. friends, family, staff)2. Academic context (e.g. department, course)3. External aspects (e.g. facilities, events)<br />Found by factor analysis of rating scales, supported by students’ comments<br />
    25. 25. Academic<br />External<br />Our Model<br />Social<br />
    26. 26. Student Video<br />
    27. 27. Summary of rating scale comments<br />In line with preliminary findings, there was a strong emphasis on the <br />social aspects of life at university.<br />
    28. 28. Emerging pattern<br />Social relationships<br />Informal<br />Formal<br />Extracurricular<br />Course related<br />Extracurricular<br />Course related<br />On a general level, higher scores on items concerning social relationships are associated with stronger sense of belonging <br />
    29. 29. Formal, course related<br />Social relationships within a formal course setting, e.g. tutorials, lab work, and seminar groups.<br />Relationship with personal tutors (note: this can also belong under the informal, course related category)<br />Courses with a larger proportion of small group teaching score higher on sense of belonging than more lecture-based courses<br />
    30. 30. Student Video - Formal Academic<br />
    31. 31. “My tutor made me feel completely welcome, I could go and see her, as long as I signed up on the board or even emailed her, she’d always make time for me so I find that really, really useful, really good, the specific questions I had to ask, I felt like they were always answered or I was pointed in the right direction”<br />“Seminars I quite like because they’re interactive and you get to meet people and as it changes from the first semester to the second semester; you get to meet more people than you might not have met otherwise”<br />“The week before our exams the lecturers, well the doctors basically, had these workshop sessions where you could go to the lecture theatre and they’d have a group of people and the lecturer would say ‘Ask me any kind of questions and I’ll answer them’ so people will be like, what does this mean?, and the lecturer will explain... Also in the small group sessions you can go up to the tutor or lecturer and just ask things so they are there to help you and it’s up to the students to seek help”<br />“I talk to the AccessAbility Centre and they’re fantastic, they do a lot of stuff... they often run tutorials or group sessions to teach learning methods, revision methods, things like that which a dyslexic person will find more difficult to do without that sort of knowledge”<br />
    32. 32. Informal, course related<br /><ul><li>Social relationships within an informal setting in the context of the university/department, e.g. collaborating with peers, socialising during field trips
    33. 33. Social relationships between course members outside the timetable, e.g. students working together on their own initiative, meeting staff outside the department context
    34. 34. Students place high value on being able to form social bonds with staff and tutors outside the course setting, e.g. socialising during field trips</li></li></ul><li>Student Video - Informal Academic<br />
    35. 35. “I’ve made quite a lot of friends just on my course really; it’s been really sociable. We’ve all had coursework together so we all go round and help each other. People come to me with questions and I’ll help them out and the same the other way. It’s great just working together and sharing ideas and that kind of stuff”<br />“There’s probably about 10 or 12 on the course that you end up getting on well with and we tend to get on really well together and it’s quite supportive because you are all up to the same thing, especially over Christmas with revision. We’d be in the library most days; it was nice to have a little social network you could pop down for a cup of tea with”<br />
    36. 36. Formal, extracurricular<br /><ul><li>Social relationships within formal settings facilitated by the university/department, e.g. clubs, societies and accommodation
    37. 37. Students who are members of clubs or societies report a stronger sense of belonging and more positive attitudes towards university life
    38. 38. Area of belonging mediated by department: among Medical students club/soc membership leads to stronger sense of belonging to the department; among English students it leads to stronger sense of belonging to the institution as a whole</li></li></ul><li>Student Video - Formal Non Academic <br />
    39. 39. “I knew about the number of societies and societies allow you a way to access all these different groups of people... and that’s what was nice, just to meet so many different people”<br />“The contact volunteering society help me a lot, meeting people through there, and meeting people through the people on my course; a lot of friends I keep in touch with now are friends of friends... everyone here is really friendly... but it’s that initial getting access to them and you wouldn’t just walk out and talk to a stranger, you need some kind of in route to that”<br />“We actually started a society because the Union didn’t have one so we have new members and we hold meetings and that’s a really good way of getting to know people because, being the co-creator, we have to talk in front of people so they’ll come to us with problems or enquiries but generally our meetings are really sociable. We go to the pub and just have a meeting instead of getting a room and it’s so much easier to get to know the people in our society”<br />“Being in catered [accommodation] is another one of those group things which gives you more friends because you’re sitting round an 8 person table and you’re always sitting with a new group of people and that’s a very social time for a lot of people. We don’t have that as much because it’s self catered and we all cook at different times but the kitchen is a very social place”<br />
    40. 40. Informal, extracurricular<br /><ul><li>Social relationships formed outside the academic setting and organised activities, e.g. friends and family
    41. 41. Students who score high on items concerning friendships in general report stronger sense of belonging
    42. 42. This also extends to socialising online; students who use social networking sites score higher on sense of belonging and have more positive attitudes towards university life.</li></li></ul><li>Student Video - Informal Non Academic<br />
    43. 43. “There’s a lot of emphasis on not forgetting to socialise but I don’t think there’s too much pressure to actually go out and do something. There’s a lot of messages through facebook; I get about 5 messages a week telling me all the different club nights or socials but I don’t really feel pressured to go to them”<br />“Two girls on the floor aren’t very big on the social side, they don’t drink and they’re very into their studying so we have had a few problems with them”<br />“We have this tradition with my flatmates that every Thursday night we go out to the pub and stay there until 11 so no matter how busy I am, unless I’m really sick, we go for a couple of hours, it’s mandatory!”<br />“If I was really ill and I couldn’t make an exam or my coursework then I would definitely talk to [my personal tutor] about that but I wouldn’t talk to him about, say, having difficulties in my accommodation, I’d just talk to my parents”<br />
    44. 44. Development of social bonds<br />Informal<br />Formal<br />Extracurricular<br />Course related<br />Evidence from qualitative material suggests social intimacy develops over time: a ‘maturation process’ happens where relationships taking place within formal domains are brought into informal domains, e.g. members of a sports club start socialising outside the club setting, becoming closer friends.<br />Similarly, relationships initially formed within a course context grow stronger and get carried over into life outside the course.<br />
    45. 45. What happens at Newcastle?<br />In groups of about four or five, discuss:<br />Do academic staff have a role to play in facilitating/encouraging social relationships amongst students?<br />Are there ways in which this currently takes place within your institution? <br />
    46. 46. More information about the project<br />Project website:<br />http://www.le.ac.uk/offices/ssds/projects/student-retention-project<br />Project blog:<br />http://studentretention.wordpress.com<br />Thank you<br />

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