There are clear financial benefits for universities and colleges in ensuring that as many students as possible complete their course. Equally learners are paying more than ever for their education, so will be keen to see a return on their investment.
There are a number of reasons why students drop-out of education due to issues such as financial pressures, difficulties with their home lives, dissatisfaction with their course or problems with assessment.
Therefore I think it is no surprise then that there has been a renewed emphasis on ensuring that student perspectives are actively sought on their educational experiences and expectations.
This is evident in initiatives such as the recently published HEFCE/NUS report on Students perspectives of technology, the Committee of Inquiry into the Changing Student Experience, and the learner experiences research Jisc has been undertaking in this area.
I see, more than ever, effective engagement, contact and communication are vital to students completing their courses and digital technologies play an ever increasing role in support of this.
Digital technologies can have a positive impact on student retention by helping institutions:
match educational experiences with everyday life
assess learning more effectively and deliver learning experiences that meet with or exceed student expectations.
A good example of the improvement in student retention is clearly shown in our work with making the new diploma a success project at Lewisham College - making. We worked with the college on the development of a learner portal to support staff and to provide students with access to online tools from different locations, resulted in an increase in retention on their Higher Diploma in IT from 62% to 92% over the full 2 years of the study.
In the latest edition of our radio show Jisc on Air we are exploring how digital technologies are helping universities and colleges to better meet students’ requirements and improve retention. In addition, we have expert input from Stephen Jackson, Director of Reviews for the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) and Alex Bols Head of Education and Quality for the National Union of Students (NUS) who discuss how the appropriate use of technology can support learners with their studies and lead to improved retention.
In this show, Kim Catcheside speaks with Richard Francis, Head of e-learning at Oxford Brookes University and Ellen Lessner, e-Learning Coordinator at Abingdon and Witney College about how their institutions are better preparing their learners for their experience of learning with technology. Both institutions participated in the Jisc Supporting Learners in a Digital Age (SLIDA) study and their case studies are available here.
Kim also speaks with Helen Beetham, co-author of the Jisc-funded Learning Literacies in a Digital Age (LLiDA) study and recent Review of Digital Literacies, about what support students require to make more effective use of technology for their learning.
Episode 3: Student retention (Duration: 18.17)