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Engaging students who are at risk of academic failure: Frameworks and Strategies

Engaging students who are at risk of academic failure: Frameworks and Strategies

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Engaging students who are at risk of academic failure: Frameworks and Strategies

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  1. Engaging students who are at risk of academic failure:Frameworks and Strategies Professor Keithia Wilson GRIFFITH UNIVERSITY ALTC National Fellow for the FYE (2010-2012) 2007 ALTC Australian University Teacher of the Year Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  2. Acknowledgment to Country In the Spirit of Reconciliation Following on from Sorry Day I would like to acknowledge & honour the Traditional Custodians of the land we are meeting on today, Turrbal and the Jagera People, and pay respect to their Elders past, present & emerging And acknowledge the contribution of our First Nation People to Higher Education & Learning Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  3. Overview What is our focus? • ADecision-Making Framework Understanding the markers or predictors of commencing student potential difficulty in academic adjustment, engagement or success. • A Strategic Intervention Framework Understanding how to design an effective strategy for proportionally supporting the success of a diverse student population. • APractice Framework Understanding the culture and capabilities for optimally engaging a diverse student population. Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  4. Overview What is our focus? • ADecision-Making Framework Understanding the markers or predictors of commencing student potential difficulty in academic adjustment, engagement or success. Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  5. Understanding the complex nature of student risk Risk is not an inherent quality of individual students, as in the term “at-risk student” Risk is a function of the interaction between a student and their university Honesty in Conception A fuller understanding of “student risk” requires us to consider how the design and conduct of our learning environments and assessment practices may inadvertently increase students’ risk of non-engagement or academic failure Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  6. An educational system designed to support success? Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  7. Student beliefs or behaviours designed to support success? Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  8. Multiple Sources of student risk Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  9. Multiple Sources of student risk Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  10. Multiple Sources of student risk Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  11. Risk across the lifecycleNot all risks are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  12. Risk and Success across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  13. Risk and Success across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  14. Risk and Success across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  15. Risk and Success across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  16. Distal or Pre-entry FactorsWhat do our students bring to university? Our students’ backgrounds and life circumstances: Have relevance to the extent that they name or resonate with predictive validity for performance at university Otherwise their use is an exercise in student labelling Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  17. What resources and capital do our students bring to university? Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  18. Identifying Distal Factors Characteristics:Who am I? Age, gender, cultural identity History: Where have I come from? Family academic capital, social capital, prior educational experiences and achievement, life experience capital (personal & cultural resources) Context:What are my circumstances? Socio-economic standing, social capital (family support, support networks), time & energy capital (family roles & responsibilities), financial capital (economic circumstances) Expectations:What are my beliefs? Family academic capital (grasp of uni expectations), motivational capital (aspirations, preferences) personal academic capital (academic efficacy & belief in success) Capabilities:What are my knowledge, skills & attitudes? Academic skills & Academic capital Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  19. Understanding Student Diversity Traditional Students (TS) medium-high SES second generation higher entry levels full time on-campus elite model of HE Non-Traditional Students (NTS) low SES first-in-family lower entry levels full-time & working on-campus less Indigenous International NESB (including refugees) disability home care responsibilities from rural & remote settings mass model of HE Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  20. Effects of Distal/Pre-entry FactorsDifferent strokes for different folks Distal factors have different impacts on students’: • Aspirations and motivation • Sense of inclusion and belonging • Early engagement with study • Performance on particular tasks • Persistence with study Thus, each of these dimensions may be influenced or moderated by different distal factors Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  21. Effects of Distal/Pre-entry FactorsDifferent strokes for different folks Moderate academic performance: • In the domains of assumed knowledge early in the lifecycle (Academic Skills & Academic Capital) • In the development/negotiation of new identities (university student, professional) • At points of stress or high performance expectations, especially with assessment tasks (e.g., efficacy beliefs, social support, available buffers, resources) • In the development of higher order meta-cognitive /self-regulatory capabilities (critical thinking, independent learning) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  22. What do we know about the effects of Distal Factors on early student achievement? Lizzio & Wilson (2010) study at Griffith: • 2006 cohort (n = 2,587) of commencing students tracked for 3 years (2006-2008) • examined the effects of distal & proximal factors on semester 1 student performance & year 1 retention • Starting@Griffith survey (weeks 6-8) and feedback process • Findings robust for age, gender, discipline & domestic/International student status Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  23. What distal factors predict commencing students’ first semester academic outcomes? Academic Capital Low SES First in Family English as a Second Language Reduces Competing Demands Time in employment Time as carer Semester 1 academic achievement Reduces Prior Academic Achievement Entry Level Scores (OPs) Enhances Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  24. What is the influence of Distal Factors across the student lifecycle? Non-Traditional students with low academic capital – • Do less well academically in their first year than Traditional students (Lizzio & Wilson, 2010) • By year 2 they evidence the same pass rates as Traditional students (Lizzio & Wilson, 2010) • They graduate at the same rate as Traditional students (Bradley et al., 2008) • NT students from low SES backgrounds graduate at 97% compared to TS (Bradley et al., 2008) • With high levels of support, NT students out-perform their medium & high SES peers (Monash, UWA, UniSA) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  25. Risk and Success across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  26. Identifying Proximal FactorsWhat is happening for our students now? Proximal factors • things that students do & feel in the university context which predict academic success, & retention • and are amenable to influence & development Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  27. Understanding Student Transition: The ‘Five-Senses’ of Student Success (Lizzio, 2006) Sense of Capability Sense of Connectedness Sense of Student Identity Sense of Purpose Sense of Resourcefulness Keithia Wilson GU - May 2012

  28. What do we know from research about proximal predictors of success in first year? Students are more likely to succeed at university if they: Sense of Capability Invest time on task  time spent studying each week is the strongest predictor Regularly attend lectures & tutorials increased learning opportunities also a strong predictor Have some sense of academic self-confidence  predicts success (self-efficacy & an expectation of success (hope) are foundational to success for Non-Traditional students) Sense of Connection Develop a social network at uni knowing one student & staff name is a protective factor against dropping out Sense of Purpose Have a clear goal or purpose for attending uni (sense of vocational direction & degree alignment especially) a strong predictor of academic success & retention into year 2 Sense of Resourcefulness Engage with the online environment moderates success at university Balance work-life-study commitments (working on average not more than 15 hours a week in paid employment)  making appropriate time for study predicts success Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  29. What do we know from research about proximal risk factors in first year? Students are more likely to drop-out and/or fail if they: Sense of Capability Don’t study & invest time on task Don’t regularly attend lectures & tutorials (with the exception of a small group of young, very intellectually bright males) Don’t believe that they can be successful (hope) Sense of Connection Don’t develop a (small) social network at university Sense of Purpose Don’t have a sense of purpose (espvocational purpose) in their degree Sense of Resourcefulness Don’t have access to or engage with the online environment Do work more than 25 hours per week while studying full time Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  30. Relative importance of distal & proximal factors to student engagement & success Research findings indicate consistently that: • Proximal factors (viz. what students do at university) are more controllable, empowering & predictive of student success than are distal factors (viz. what students bringto university) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  31. What distal & proximal factors predict commencing students’ first semester academic outcomes? Academic Capital Low SES First in Family ESL Reduces Competing Demands Time in employment Time as carer Reduces Semester 1 academic achievement Task Engagement @ Uni Attendance at Orientation Time on task/study Strongly Enhances Prior Academic Achievement Entry Level Scores to HEd Enhances Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  32. What distal & proximal factors predict commencing students’ retention into Year 2? Academic Capital - Competing Demands - Semester 1 GPA Student Retention Task Engagement @ Uni + Prior Academic Achievement + Sense of Purpose + + + Student Satisfaction + Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  33. Greater importance of proximal factors to student engagement & success Research findings indicate consistently over the last 9 years that – • Low SES students graduate at 97% the success rates of their medium to high SES peers (Bradley et al, 2008:30) • Provided they receive appropriate types of support at university (financial assistance & greater academic support, mentoring & counselling services) (Transforming Australia’s Higher Education System, Commonwealth of Australia, 2009:14) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  34. Risk across the lifecycleNot all factors are created equal! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  35. Implications for effective interventionWhat might this mean? Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  36. Implications for effective interventionWhat might this mean? Strategy should emphasise factors which are within both our own and our student’s control & are thus optimally amenable to development & influence Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  37. Posting ‘warning signs’ is not enough to effectively help students Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  38. False independenceThe ‘you have been told’ approach Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  39. Zone of Optimal Influence and Investment Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  40. A quick break to gather our thoughts and chat Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  41. Overview What is our focus? • ADecision-Making Framework Understanding the markers or predictors of commencing student potential difficulty in academic adjustment, engagement or success. • A Strategic Intervention Framework Understanding how to design an effective strategy for proportionally supporting the success of a diverse student population. Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  42. Framing our strategy • The meta-goal of early university education is purposefully “scaffolding students’ capacity for independence & self-regulation” • Help-rich learning environments do not necessarily “create dependence” & high levels of student help-seeking may equally indicate badly designed curriculum & assessment as much as limitations in student ability or motivation • Our strategy for supporting at-risk students is therefore necessarily multi-layered Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  43. Levels of Prevention & Intervention with student risk(Adapted from Caplan, 1964) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  44. Prevention is better than cure! Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  45. Levels of Prevention & Intervention with student risk(Adapted from Caplan, 1964) Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  46. General/Primary PreventionWhat do we do for all students? • Strategies which are designed to benefit all of our students, and are thus foundational and universal • andfunction to reduce the types of risk that result from a mismatch or misappraisal of study demands and student resources. Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  47. General/Primary Prevention Strategies Examples include curricular & co-curricular strategies • Universal curriculum design • Scaffolding self-help • Programmed help • Peer help • Staff developmental help Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  48. General/Primary Prevention Strategies 1. Universal Curriculum Design The design of FY courses & related assessment practices to enable successful transition to university study • Well judged, well-paced, well aligned curriculum • Making assumed entry level knowledge explicit • Programs & courses that strengthen students’ sense of purpose & build sense of connection • Design of early, formative, low stakes assessment tasks to build skill & confidence • Active scaffolding of student engagement with assessment tasks & provision of resources • Developing program level mechanisms for increasing consistency between first year courses Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  49. General/Primary Prevention Strategies 2. Scaffolding Self-Help Supporting students to self-manage in the early stages of their academic life to develop the meta-goal of self-regulation • Providing timely information about forthcoming choices and decisions (e.g., key dates). • Providing ‘attention getting’ cues and prompts for timely completion of tasks (e.g., Have you done....? By now you should have....if you haven’t we encourage you to.....) • Offering task/time relevant or appropriate help (e.g., If you would like to talk to someone about........then....) • Legitimating and normalising concerns and giving permission to seek help (e.g., It’s common around this time for students to be feeling......) • Building self-efficacy by offering assurance, encouragement and hope Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012

  50. General/Primary Prevention Strategies 3. Programmed Help Providing students with scheduled opportunities to access support and information. These types of generic activities can range from – • Strategic welcome, orientation & induction process, involving realistic “job appraisal” for the student role • preparatory workshops (academic skills) • common time processes with just-in-time interventions (lifecycle orientation & transition across the first semester), • academic advising These may be offered ‘centrally and generically’ and/or ‘locally and specifically’. Just-in-time activities are generally more widely used and therefore more effective. Keithia Wilson FYHE Conference - June 2012