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Professor Debby Cotton: Widening Participation, Retention and Student Success

A Centre for Social Mobility seminar
Date20 March 2019
Time13:30 to 14:30
PlaceLaver Building

Professor Debby Cotton, Head of Teaching and Learning, University of Plymouth, jointly hosted by The Education Incubator Team. There will be an opportunity to continue the discussion over tea afterwards.

An increasingly competitive market in higher education (HE), as well as the advent of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) has encouraged many institutions to engage in curriculum transformation efforts aimed at enhancing student learning, retention and attainment.

Substantial disparities in metrics for retention and attainment exist between institutions which suggest that variations in policies and practices may influence student retention and success. Numerous schemes have been devised to increase the retention and success of diverse student groups. These include scholarships and bursaries, improved induction, monitoring and support measures, curriculum and pedagogic interventions, and specialist teams of staff or peer mentors.

In this talk, I will focus on a recent evaluation of a large-scale curriculum enrichment project which aimed to enhance student retention and success. The intervention included a number of elements which exemplified best practice from the literature incorporated into a four-week immersive induction module. This module (included in almost all programmes across the university) aimed to provide students with discipline-relevant academic skills and networks to support them through the transition period and beyond. The evaluation explored academic and student experiences of this module, as well as impacts on academic self-efficacy, social integration, retention, and attainment of different student groups.

Positive outcomes were identified in terms of student attainment (including a narrowing of the gender attainment gap), student retention, and students’ perceptions of preparation and integration. Challenges of this approach included variable approaches to implementation, and the need to manage student expectations for subsequent modules. In some ways, the immersive induction module was a victim of its own success, thus student expectations for subsequent modules proved difficult to fulfil.

Book your place here.

Professor Debby Cotton is Head of Teaching and Learning at the University of Plymouth.


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