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The first-year experience study 2005-07 Mantz Yorke

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1 The first-year experience study Mantz Yorke

2 Coverage The first-year experience study On-programme After leaving Comparison of data from 1997 and from 2007 Sectoral variation in non-continuation What successful institutions (can) do

3 The importance of the first year experience It involves transition in which the demand on students may be quite different from their previous experience It connects with other themes of importance, such as - employability - assessment (especially formative) - student success generally - retention

4 Origins of the UK FYE study Study of non-completion for HEFCE (1997) Pre-dated Labours new fees policy Fee regime again changed in AY First year crucial for many students FYE little researched in UK, cf US, Australia Widening participation agenda Sponsored by the Higher Education Academy Co-directed by Bernard Longden (Liverpool Hope University)

5 Purposes of the study To provide the HE sector in the UK with data that is informative can be used as a baseline for comparison with future studies, particularly in a context of top-up fees can be used comparatively, within and across both subject areas and institutions, to inform both policy development and quality enhancement activity

6 The UK FYE study Phase 2 Spring 2007 Survey of withdrawn at/before end acad yr All subject areas 25 institutions Phase 1 Spring 2006 Survey mid-1 st year 9 subject areas 23 institutions

7 The UK FYE study 9 Broad subject areas, spanning the spectrum 25 Varied higher education institutions (became 23) 1 st year FT students (home and overseas) Phase 1: questionnaire survey, completed in class time 7109 valid responses Phase 2: questionnaire survey, postal 462 valid responses

8 Headlines from Phase 1 Teaching and Learning Programmes generally stimulating Supportive teaching Good understanding of academic demand… … but coping with it more of a problem Feedback, esp. promptness, seen less positively Low likelihood of reading around the subject Differences between subject areas Differences between institutions

9 Headlines from Phase 1 Risk factors Two main risk factors are Poor appreciation of programme and/or institution Worry about finance Part-time employment may exert an influence, and is differentially related to socio-economic grouping: those from lower SEGs are more likely to take it up

10 Headlines from Phase 1 (ctd) Demographic-related findings (a) Socio-econ status: surprisingly little difference re FYE Older students: more motivated to study more positive relationship with staff Gender: females more motivated, engaged Ethnic grouping: some variation, but not consistent Generally confident of gaining a graduate-level job

11 Headlines from Phase 1 (ctd) Demographic-related findings (b) Less positive re teaching/learning ……………. L; NW Lower confidence in study skills ………………L; NW Less likely to cope with academic demand …. NW More likely to say resources are inadequate..L; NW Less likely to say staff are friendly …………… NW Less likely to make friends ……………………..NW More likely to worry about finance ……………L L = Lower socio-economic status; NW = Not white These are, however, relatively small variations on the general run of findings

12 Why did students leave? Seven groups (factors) of influences Quality of academic aspects of experience Inability to cope with academic demand Wrong choice of programme Dissatisfaction with resources Finance-related, including part-time employment Unhappiness with location Problems relating to social integration

13 Why students leave: Programme not as expected The timetable was so much heavier than I expected – over 18 hours a week, which was a lot more than my other friends and was far too much. I was studying [Language] and History of Art joint honours and presumed it would be equal amounts of both disciplines but I hardly spent any time doing History of Art which I enjoyed more.

14 Why students leave: Wrong choice, etc I had no idea what I wanted to do so I thought better try university in case I regretted not going. I made some good friends so stayed the whole year but I realised in the summer that I didn't want to make a career out of what I was studying. I didn't see the point in getting even deeper into debt for something I wasn't sure I really wanted. I wanted to do economics but did not get a place as I didn't quite get the required grades. I was offered Computer Science and as I really wanted to attend [University] I thought I would try it. But it did not [suit] me and [University] would not allow me to change courses so I had to move to a different uni.

15 Why students leave: Poor staff/student contact I felt quite isolated in terms of studying. Lecturers spoke during lectures and then would leave the room, with no time for questions. During my entire first year I never once met my personal tutor. There seemed to be no interest in students personal needs. I did NOT enjoy my experience what so ever, due to the lack of support from staff. I was never introduced to my personal tutor and felt like a number – not a person in a new [overwhelming] environment. Not one of my tutors spoke to me as an individual …

16 Why students leave: Finance Found it very difficult to maintain employment & academic study. The more I wanted to progress at Uni – the more money I needed – so needed to work more to get more money – I received no grants. I had a lot of debt so had to work a lot of hours to meet my outgoings. This in turn effected my attendance in class. […] I would love to go back to university but I still have financial difficulties.

17 Why students leave: Social integration issues Issues around being a mature student in an environment geared towards school leavers. I … didnt settle into my accommodation and I only connected with one of my flatmates. Conflict of interests – I felt peer pressured into partying every night when I didnt want to. Coupled with being homesick, I couldnt stay. I felt that living at home excluded me from a lot of the student life that I wanted to experience.

18 Some sub-analyses featuring aspects of access

19 Students prior knowledge Those with lower levels of prior knowledge indicated consistently stronger influences on leaving, compared with their better-informed peers The difference was particularly marked in respect of their levels of commitment and of financial concern

20 Access-related findings: some comparisons A caveat: Numbers in the following groups are small Ethnicity (other than white) Declared a disability and hence comparisons are particularly tentative

21 Ethnicity: particular reasons for leaving Other than white more likely to mention Aspects of teaching quality Contact with academic staff Programme organisation Aspects of institutional resourcing Lack of personal support from family, partner etc. Demands of employment whilst studying Travel difficulties Financial problems

22 SES: particular reasons for leaving Students from supervisory etc. backgrounds more likely than those from professional/managerial backgrounds to mention Teaching quality Class size Lack of study skills Library / learning resources Programme difficulty and Lack of engagement Stress Lack of personal support from family, partner Financial problems

23 Disability: particular reasons for leaving Declaring a disability = more likely to mention Personal health Lack of personal support from staff Lack of specialist equipment for the programme But less likely to mention Lack of commitment, engagement, etc. Insufficient progress Demands of employment whilst studying Teaching approach

24 Have things changed over time?

25 The pattern of findings is pretty consistent Factors 48.5% of variance Quality of experience Inability to cope Unhappy with social environment Wrong choice of programme Finance-related Dissatisfaction with resources Factors 60.9% of variance Quality of experience Inability to cope Wrong choice of programme Dissatisfaction with resources Finance-related Unhappy with location Problems re social integration

26 Why do students leave? Top reasons Mid-1990s Wrong choice of prog 45 Prog not as expected 45 Lack of commitment41 Financial problems36 Teaching didnt suit35 Instn not as expected31 Lack of acad progress29 Needed a break28 Prog organisation27 Prog not relev/career23 Emotion, health probs23 Lack staff contact22 Lack staff support 22 Teaching quality 22 The numbers are the percentages of respondents indicating that the reason was very or moderately influential on their departure

27 Why do students leave? Top reasons Mid-1990s AY Wrong choice of prog 45Prog not as expected48 Prog not as expected 45 Wrong choice of prog42 Lack of commitment41 Teaching didnt suit42 Financial problems36 Lack of pers engaget39 new Teaching didnt suit35Lack staff contact36 Instn not as expected31 Lack of acad progress35 Lack of acad progress29 Prog organisation34 Needed a break28 Lack of staff support34 Prog organisation27 Lack of commitment32 Prog not relev/career23Instn not as expected31 Emotion, health probs23Teaching quality31 Lack staff contact22 Financial problems29 Lack staff support 22 Prog not relev/career27 Teaching quality 22Quality of feedback26 new

28 Have (8 selected) influences changed over time? Mid-1990s 2005 poss Influence (ranked) left leaving left Wrong choice 1= 1 2= Programme not as expected 1= 2 1 Lack motivation / commitment Finance Teaching issues 5 3 2= Lack of academic progress Programme organisation Lack of contact with staff 8 6 4

29 Have things changed over time? Though finance is a clear concern to students, its significance with respect to leaving may be diminishing There are hints that contact with academic staff is becoming of increasing importance Poor choice of programme, together with associated concerns, still looms large

30 Something can always be done Institutional self-scrutiny is a useful starting-point (institutional research?) Then target priorities So what can be done?

31 Better Worse Non-continuation in larger, non-specialist, HEIs

32 To ensure that each institution does better than the regression line for non-continuation After Garrison Keillor The sectoral Lake Wobegon challenge

33 How does your institution compare? If worse than the regression line, are there any good reasons for this? Some causes of non-continuation can be addressed by the institution; others not. Identify top priorities; give primary attention to them

34 What makes an institution successful? Commentaries on successful institutions suggest a number of key features, though none makes all of the points listed on the following slide NB Successful doesnt imply elite; rather, it implies doing better than might be expected (in UK terms, beating your benchmark)

35 Commitment to student learning… … and hence student engagement Management of student transition Curriculum seen in terms of social engagement Appropriate curricular structures Emphasis on importance of FYE (incl. resourcing) Monitoring and evaluating, and acting on evidence Academic leadership (though in some cases implicit) What makes an institution successful?


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