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Predicting progression using informal indicators during transition. Chris Keenan Learning and Teaching Fellow Bournemouth University. This session will:.

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predicting progression using informal indicators during transition

Predicting progression using informal indicators during transition

Chris Keenan

Learning and Teaching Fellow

Bournemouth University

this session will
This session will:
  • Look at behavioural data to investigate what can be learnt about the correlation between engagement during transition to HE and a student’s potential to proceed
  • Explore further 5 sets of data 2008-2012
  • Attempt some understanding of the findings
  • Provide opportunity to discuss implications
starting points
Starting Points
  • By 2001-2 I was already linking transition and induction experience
  • had realised that if a student was already experiencing a problematic transition into HEthen a poor induction experience could tip them into leaving
  • Set up Stepping Stones 2HE in 2002 as a discipline focused mechanism to ease transition to HE, bridge transition, provide and integrate social and academic learning opportunities
problem with timing
Problem with timing
  • Difficult to track engagement of students in the first few weeks of Year 1.
  • Registers, non submission of assignments, often provide early indicators
  • But, by the time the information is available it is often too late
  • I am making the argument that it is possible to identify a correlation between early engagement (in transition phase) with potential to progress
  • But, the problem is, what can we do with this data
first four weeks
First four weeks
  • Conversation with Dr Randy Swing
  • Conducted a retrospective study of a cohort of 79 students I was teaching 2007-2008
  • Collected registers for the first four teaching weeks
  • I identified 28 students with more than one absence in the first four weeks as high risk of early withdrawal or exam failure
  • Exam Board: 16 of those 28 were referred to repeat at least one unit; 2 were fail/withdraw; 2 had left before the exam board; 8 proceeded
  • Initial thoughts: perhaps this is the holy retention grail!

In 2008 I repeated the study with the new intake of the same degree programme this time 83 students

  • High entry rate students
  • Collected registers teaching weeks 8 Oct-29 Oct
  • Applied same crude criteria - this time 17 students with four or more absences during first four teaching weeks were identified

I identified 17 students

  • All of them had a long tutorial session with me in November when they received their first assignment back
  • I expressed my concern
  • One student said he appreciated the wake up call
  • At the exam board:

- 7 of them were referred in one or more units

- 2 were fail/withdraw

- 3 withdrew before the exams

- 5 progressed safely

  • Similar findings as last year, tutorial had not made significant difference – high grade intake
  • What was going on?
  • What was the data telling me?

In 2009 repeated exercise with a different cohort n=209

  • Analysed attendance during 6 October - 21 October and identified any student with 4 absences as high risk of early withdrawal/failure
  • Identified 26 students – when I checked progression, 20 of those students had left

In 2010 repeated study with engineering students– found similar results

  • Again, even when risks were identified to students there seemed to be little change on their outcomes
  • Difficult to find out what was going on

In 2011 I conducted a more in depth study with engineering students. I ran the whole induction week before formal teaching.

During induction week (ie before “contamination”: teaching, practices, procedures, etc) I monitored attendance at every induction week activity including campus tours, ice breakers, etc.



  • 92 students: 2 repeaters not included.
  • 90 students
  • Enhanced transition support, more keep warm communication, pre-enrolment activities, themed lectures in induction week, involvement of Peer Assisted Learning leaders
  • This time, I checked for any absence from both: any induction week session AND any absence in first week of teaching
  • During induction week 40 students with any absence at all were contacted by myself or one other colleague to check how they were getting on
  • Two said they were waiting for “proper” teaching to start, effectively isolating themselves
  • 26 of the 40 had absence in first week of teaching
  • Outcomes: have not had exam board yet but so far 15 of that group of 26 have left

What can be concluded:

  • Self fulfilling prophecy?
  • How can this be addressed when students are counselled but still don’t change
  • Started looking at the psychology
  • What is basis for students’ decision making?
  • Judgement making
  • Risk taking
  • Reality of novel experience vs over-generalised notions
  • Open up to discussion?

Brain development – newer thinking areas (frontal lobes) slower pace of development – 25 years

  • Psychological distance
  • Trade-off between immediate gratification and long term goals
  • Problem: similar to development of motor skills: adolescent gets used to trying out new neural networks – risk taking, sensation seeking, more emotionally influenced behaviour in late teens and early twenties
implications for a new first year pedagogy
Implications for a new first year pedagogy
  • Pascarella: late development of higher order capacities associated with cognitive control suggests that college students may need more direct guidance and instructional scaffolding to help acquire necessary skills
  • Abandon “induction week” move immediately into week one teaching (eg at University of Greenwich)
  • Underpin with developmental transition approach
learning and teaching strategies
Learning and Teaching strategies
  • During developmental transition phase – first year:
  • Engage in discussions about expectations
  • Assess and make connections to students prior knowledge and experience
  • Engage students in challenging and meaningful tasks
my emerging conclusions
My emerging conclusions
  • Need to re-frame first year curricula
  • Need a new pedagogy for first year experience
  • Need to have fresh thinking for freshers