Enhancing the early student experience.

Trotter, E. & Roberts, C. (2006). Enhancing the early student experience.  Higher Education Research & Development, 25(4), 371-386.

Trotter and Roberts’ (2006) research focused on identifying how the early student experience could be enhanced in order to improve levels of student retention and achievement. The research involved a case study of the various retention programs implemented within a University in theUK facing the challenges of increasing student numbers and diversity. Following a review of retention program outcomes, results indicated that there were similarities in the way programs with high retention rates are run, with these features not being prevalent wtihin programs with low retention. Factors likely to enhance the first-year student’s experience included:

  • Pre-entry information: Correct and up-to-date program information, open days and links with local colleges and schools
  • Induction: Attention to student-student and staff-student relationships and including links to future studies
  • Personal tutor support: Regular and structured personal tutor meetings
  • The impact of undertaking paid employment and other commitments: Timetables that allow for student involvement in part-time employment and other commitments
  • Attendance: Monitored attendance and follow-up of those missing classes
  • Teaching & Learning activities: Actively involving students in class
  • Assessment: Continuous summative assessment and feedback that begins early

Overall the authors recommended a holistic approach to retention, incorporating all departments and involving senior management in the implementation of coordinated policies and actions including staff development and liaison with local schools.

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