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1st Year Experience and Student Retention CELT Professional Development Event.

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Presentation on theme: "1st Year Experience and Student Retention CELT Professional Development Event."— Presentation transcript:

1 1st Year Experience and Student Retention CELT Professional Development Event

2 Overview The Wider Context Why students withdraw Intervention strategies that may help: Prior to entry Upon entry Later The importance of Induction and good assessment

3 What did you experience that was negative?

4 What did you experience that was positive?

5 What do researchers have to say: HE can be overwhelming for some students, particularly those who are introverted and take longer to establish relationships with others. (Johnston, 1997, p. 8) …students often did not have necessary study skills to effectively cope with HE. (ibid., p. 14) Roughly two-thirds of premature departures take place in or at the end of the first year of full-time study in the UK…early poor performance can be a powerful disincentive to continuation with students feeling that they were not cut out for higher education…although main problems are acculturation and acclimatisation to studying. (Yorke, 2004, p. 37)

6 Social networking Our research identified three ways in which the institution can play a role in promoting social networks: 1. 2. 3.

7 1, 2 and 3 …firstly through student living arrangements, secondly by the provision of appropriate social facilities and thirdly via collaborative teaching and learning practices. (Thomas, 2002, p. 436): Student retention in higher education: the role of institutional habitus.

8 Seven principles of U-graduate Education Important work of Chickering and Gamson (1987) Encourage contact between students and faculty Develop co-operation among students Use active learning strategies Give prompt feedback Emphasise time on task Communicate high expectations Respect diverse talents and ways of learning (AAHE, 1987) Seminal.

9 Retention is not just an issue for the first few weeks of the academic year. Research has shown that the most successful programmes are ones where: Students are provided with comprehensive pre-entry information about the programme, so that they are familiar with the modules before they start. Students are given an in-depth induction programme to help them settle in and get to know fellow students and staff. Students are part of a programme that has a strong, supportive personal tutor system. Students are provided with a friendly timetable that facilitates part-time employment.

10 In addition: Students are on a Programme emphasising the importance of attendance and with a strict monitoring system. Students are provided with a wide range of teaching and learning techniques rather than just lectures or seminars. Students receive constant feedback on their work, especially in the early stages of their studies. There is emphasis on success rather than failure, collaboration rather than competition, achieving rather than failing

11 Why do students withdraw? Two sets of explanations: academic and non- academic: Dissatisfaction with the mode of study and the course Wrong or ill-informed choices Undue influence by others. Poor awareness of course content, employer demands, academic expectations and realities Genuine change of mind: This is not for me. Finance/domestic problems Failure to cope The reasons are complex and often overlapping

12 Also because they: Are unable to settle Do not have English as their first language Have no family history/limited support externally Simply do not work hard enough, therefore fail Allow employment, usually part-time, to take over

13 Reflection Time Could the above be prioritised in any way?

14 Research recommends 3 stages to Transition 1.Prior to entry 2.Induction & Beyond 3.Curriculum Development We will look at each, but with greater emphasis on Induction and beyond for this presentation

15 Prior to entry numerous strategies may be used: Bridging modules for at risk students, generally those without the necessary pre-requisites Partnership building between feeders and receiver Moodle training; MA in Learning and Teaching Interviewing, but more by way of counselling and to identify possible needs (diagnostic) Provision of interesting and accurate information that is also user-friendly: Facebook??

16 Induction: What is Induction? Induction is taken as a set of processes that introduces students to: The Institution as an academic community Their campus as a distinctive social organisation and the providers of central support such as counselling and careers guidance Their faculty, school or department as an organizational unit Their course of study as the academic framework in which they will learn The academic staff who will deliver the course and assess their performance An individual member of staff whose responsibility it is to advise them on both academic and pastoral matters; and Their peer group. (STAR Project, 2005)

17 Induction covers a number of different aspects: Social induction (meeting other students, Students Union) Geographical induction (where is everything that the student needs) Task induction (subject taster lectures, study skills, small-group activities) System induction (how does everything work – rules and regulations, student support) The implications are therefore enormous

18 Transitions Lifecycle Model University of Bradford : (i) application; (ii) transition; (iii) support and guidance and (iv) moving on.

19 However: Even the most outstanding induction week will do little more than introduce students to the information highlighted. Induction and transition activities therefore need embedding throughout the first semester and first year in order to support student success.

20 An ideal induction programme should…? 1.Be strategically located and managed 2.Address academic, social and cultural adjustments that students may face 3.Provide time-relevant targeted information 4.Be inclusive of all student groups 5.Address special needs of particular groups 6.Make academic expectations explicit 7.Include teaching staff at a personal level 8.Develop required computing and e-learning skills 9.Recognise existing skills and experience 10.Recognise different entry points and routes into higher education 11.Be inclusive of students families 12.Be student centred rather than organisation centred 13.Be an integrated whole 14.Be part of an ongoing extended programme 15.Be evaluated with outcomes and actions communicated to relevant stakeholders (Fry, Ketteridge & Marshall, 2009))

21 Research has identified that students feel the following areas are the most important with regard to induction: 1.Opportunities to make friends Social Networking Icebreakers Reduce the amount of Lectures Increase the amount of small group work Start induction on Monday 2. To be told in advance what their induction involves Pre-entry activities Reading lists Send out accurate timetables

22 3.To understand what kind of learning is involved on their degree programme and be reassured that theyll cope Discussions about differences Sample some learning activities Group activities Campus Tours Course Reps & feedback 4.To be reminded how their course will benefit their future plans Focus on graduation and graduate employment Graduate destinations Engaging with the programme Wider benefits of the programme 5.The Induction programme to fit around their other commitments, such as family and employment Clear timetable sent out in advance Start on Monday Avoid Early starts and late finishes Blocks of time

23 Who is involved? Students First Year Convenor Teaching & Support Staff Colleagues in Academic Registry Marketing Student Services – (research shows professional student services should be highlighted at early stage) Student Learning & Development Centre Students Union

24 What else can be done? Connecting well on the first day of class Small group teaching wherever possible Interactive teaching and active learning Balanced content: no overload/threshold concepts to the fore; achievable learning outcomes (not too many)

25 And: Highly visible constructive alignment between learning, teaching and assessment: purpose is clear Encourage self-assessment/provide guidelines for this Provide criterion-referenced guidelines Peer support Well-monitored attendance… SEE Examples

26 Also: Assertive outreach (Smith and Beggs, 2003) Personal Tutors/studies advisers Academic and other skills enhancement Referral Reduce barriers to effective learning AND effective assessment

27 Some barriers to effective learning Could everyone think of at least 3 barriers?

28 Barriers to effective assessment

29 So… Keep assessment manageable: short rather than long essays; one essay rather than two. Use synoptic assessment whenever possible Spend time helping students to understand your criteria Could they assist in drawing it up? Reduce emphasis on examinations: are they necessary at the end of semester one? could failed semester one exams, if held, be discounted? Employ lots of CATs such as the One Minute paper Use diagnostic assessment early so as to intervene before it is too late. It does not have to be formally assessed. Assess often and early.

30 In addition: Give feedback highlighting how subsequent work could be improved and give within a week to 10 days. Always begin with a positive! Suggest what would help rather than state what was wrong: In your next essay, in the review of literature section, here are three things you could do: 1. 2. 3. We shall presume good guidelines on the writing of a literature review (or whatever) had been given!

31 What else: over to you…

32 Some Examples – University of Portsmouth Induction Week

33 The UniSmart programme ( is used in universities throughout New Zealand, Australia and the UK

34 Induction and Orientation Websites: Giving students the basis need to know information and points of contact

35 University of Warwick – orientation homepage

36 Staff Aids - Induction Ideas




40 Start of Semester OnWards: We missed you… is a postcard – sent to students at early period as a way of informing them that their absence has been noted, that their attendance is important and to encourage them to make contact if there is a problem. Tracking and monitoring of students begins in earnest throughout this period. Attendance letter from X/School – sent to students who have missed 3 lectures/module, encouraging the the student to make contact. Track reasons and if student has withdrawn unofficially Form an At Risk register: This will identify students who have a poor attendance record or referrals for supportive follow ups by appropriate staff.

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