Title: How to solve the problem of retention
Presenter and affiliation: Prof. Mark Davies – University of Sunderland, UK
Intended Audience: All staff who may have an interest in the retention of students, but particularly those with responsibility for retention
Duration: 1 day: 8:45 AM to 3:00PM
Location:S45-006 ZAIN E-Learning Center, Sakheir Campus, University of Bahrain

Social and academic expectations of students change as they move into and through Higher Education. Students need to adapt rapidly and institutions need to address these changing needs as student population’s change. There is widespread evidence and agreement that, in particular, the transfer from schools into Higher Education and even internally between courses, can be a difficult time for students. Therefore in these transition periods there needs to be adequate support for these students and additional support for those most affected by the change in their academic and social lives.

This workshop will focus on the outcomes of the Student Transition and Retention (STAR) project, funded by the UK government and delivered by a consortium of UK Higher Education providers. The project centered on the identification, analysis, dissemination and uptake of good practice in supporting students during periods of rapid transition from one learning environment to another with an underlying aim to increase student retention.

The critical points in the transition process will be considered such as: adapting to changes in academic teaching and expectations; adapting to changes in social lives, living more independently, a new circle of peers. However there are many stages of transition within the University experience such as pre and post placement or direct entrants into later years of study, and these student groups also need support in adapting or re-adapting to changes in expectations and their learning experience.

The workshop will also consider the importance of curriculum design and will present an exemplar of module review undertaken to enhance student engagement and address attrition or non-completion and increase the relevance of the subject area for students.

Outputs of the STAR project will be used as discussion points in developing practice in participants, but the workshop will also showcase exemplars of good practice from practitioners in Bahrain. Thus the format will be responsive to the needs of participants, but will be discursive in nature. A true ’workshop’ is planned – not merely a dissemination event - since participation facilitates learning. Frameworks, such as those identified by the STAR project will be explored, but the intention will be for participants to leave with plans of how to transform practice to give enhanced retention and smoother transition.

Learning Outcomes:

After the completion of the function, the participant will be able to:

  1. Consider the critical points in the transition process for students.
  2. Identify specific actions which will assist their students at various points of transition.
  3. Engage with and use STAR project resources.
  4. Develop a draft action plan for their institutional area

Link to UK Professional Standard Framework (PSF):

A1. Design and plan learning activities and/or programmes of study

A2. Teach and/or support learning

A3. Develop effective learning environments and approaches to student support and guidance

K1. How students learn, both generally and within their subject/ disciplinary area(s)

V1. Promote participation in higher education and equality of opportunity for learners

V2. Use evidence-informed approaches and the outcomes from research, scholarship and continuing professional development

Explicit links will be made to the areas highlighted above. This workshop is a good example of how the ‘support’ element of the UKPSF for teaching and supporting learning can be highlighted. There will be some material that can influence teaching, but the majority will concern activities considered as supplemental to core activities, but which nonetheless can transform the lives and learning of students.