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Re-Freshers: Re-conceptualising retention as enhancing the student experience Jeanne Hill University of Central Lancashire.

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Presentation on theme: "Re-Freshers: Re-conceptualising retention as enhancing the student experience Jeanne Hill University of Central Lancashire."— Presentation transcript:

1 Re-Freshers: Re-conceptualising retention as enhancing the student experience Jeanne Hill University of Central Lancashire

2 Institutional focus UK research e.g. Yorke & Longden Difficulties in transition into HE Variations in backgrounds Widening participation Government performance indicators: Year 1-2 retention Employability Jeanne Hill, UCLan 2 Institutional Research Conference 2008

3 An agenda item for institutional research Anecdotal but growing concern Enhancing the student experience Second year ‘slump’ Do year 1 induction activities postpone the problems? Indicative information suggests year 2 concerns may be as frequent as year 1 Jeanne Hill, UCLan 3 Institutional Research Conference 2008

4 Research to date review of empirical literature and HESA data unstructured interviews with senior staff and researchers discussion groups Spring 2007, 134 business & management students dissemination discussions pilot project Jeanne Hill, UCLan 4 Institutional Research Conference 2008

5 Findings research ‘black hole’ world-wide HESA doesn’t record y2,y3 retention little anecdotal experience except US ‘sophomore slump’ tactical initiatives management blind-spot staff aren’t focused on it (part of the problem?) 5 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

6 Investigation of the ‘sophomore slump’ Gump, 2007 Journal of General Education, 56:2, “... 2 nd year undergraduate students struggle anew to adjust to college life without the supportive transition initiatives...often available exclusively to first year students.” body of literature back to 1930’s, but ‘no significant studies’ reporting ‘adequate information’ (Pascarella & Terenzini 2005) “cries for...sophomore year to be awarded the attention of faculty and administrators” – Schreiner & Pattengale, 2000; Kezar, 2003) Jeanne Hill, UCLan 6 Institutional Research Conference 2008

7 Spring 07 student research Objective: surface variables about the experience, transitions and ‘bad patches’ for further study 130 business & management, 3 years Exploratory and qualitative Discussion groups; semi-structured 7 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

8 Student research findings Year 1 slump after Christmas and especially as the reality of the work hits home and they’re ‘on their own’ Year 2 slumps through lack of attention, stuck in the middle, not new Year 3 – no time to slump; pressure All ‘lose it’ in vacation periods Find re-entry hard, which leads to low performance 8 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

9 Year 2 verbatims (slump?) “after Christmas in year 1, definitely, but not to the extent of this year” “This year has been appalling.” They think you should know what you’re doing”. “There’s no driving process like in the first year. In the second year, you’re just cut off completely.” 9 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

10 More year 2 verbatims “I don’t know who’s my personal tutor” “We’re just told to go away and read the book. Go away. Now you’re independent learners.” (telling us that) “is to their advantage, not our advantage.” “More work, less communication and support.” 10 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

11 A solution: Re-Freshers Week Emerged from student comments Virtual Planning Committee 61/151  core group Mixed courses and years Generic core of activities: academic, policy, value-added initiatives, referencing, critical thinking Subject/module-specific key concepts 11 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

12 Results against objectives Yes% Did it help you get a good start? Did you meet new people? Did you make new friends? Do you feel more engaged? Did you learn something worthwhile? Value added rating: 3.3/4 = 82.5%, Overall rating 3.6/4 =90% satisfaction 12 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

13 Other student-centred activities Module information for the summer Pre-semester 2 concepts/previews Short-term in-semester or holiday time job- related placements Involving returners in Re-Freshers activities Continuing research with students Student summer internships Showing we care Make it an institutional agenda item 13 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan

14 References Gump, S.E. (2007) Classroom research in a general education course: Exploring implications through an investigation of the sophomore slump. The Journal of General Education, 56:2, Kezar, A. (2003) Achieving student success: Strategies for creating partnerships between academic and student affairs. NASPA Journal, 4:1, 1-22 Schreiner, L.A. & Pattengale, J. (Eds) (2000) Visible solutions for invisible students: Helping sophomores succeed (Monograph 31). Columbia: National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition, University of South Carolina Pascarella, E.T. &Terenzini, P.T. (32005) How college affects students, Vol 2: A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass 14 Institutional Research Conference 2008 Jeanne Hill, UCLan


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