This learning and teaching research project was initiated earlier this year with the aim of looking at the ways in which the institutional characteristics and disciplinary cultures within UCA affect retention and engagement among first year undergraduates
The research, now in its last stage, has been extended in order to ensure that the most apposite information can be gathered regarding the cohort of students who have just enrolled on their second year of undergraduate study. This is part of the third phase of the research; a close study of four BA(Hons) courses across UCA, which focuses on gathering narratives that can be set against the more widely available background of metrics. This phase of the research has already yielded some valuable insights from the four Course Leaders who have generously contributed to the research, and this final component will add to that rich mix of insights.
Following a well–received presentation of the project at the Course Leaders’ Forum in July, this project was successfully shared at an HEA event Ready for Retention: Effective Systems for Transition and Student Success, at the University of South Wales in July. Both presentations opened the project up to other perspectives and proved extremely valuable.
The full report will be complete shortly and will present a range of findings in relation to the strengths and challenges within the undergraduate experience at UCA in terms of retention.
In light of these findings, the report will also make a series of recommendations around priorities for development and change at strategic, course and programme levels, such as
- Developing an area of the UCA website specifically for family and friends
- Implementing initiatives early in the student journey, that is from four weeks pre-entry to first assessment point / beginning of term two
These will include recommendations for valuing and strengthening good practice across the university, in terms of retention, such as
- Setting up a hub for sharing good practices across courses and schools, which would include facilitating exchanges between academics and those involved with other university-wide initiatives, such as studies of the experience of BME students, widening participation initiatives and Student Support Coordination
- Acknowledging the crucial role of personal tutors, through, for example, realistic work-load adjustments for personal tutors and the provision of appropriate support, resources and training
The final report will elaborate on each of these recommendations and add several more for consideration.
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