Polytechnic University of Valencia Congress, Fifth International Conference on Higher Education Advances

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Beyond Attrition and Retention: Working With Students to Enhance the First Year Experience
Natalia Gerodetti, Darren Nixon

Last modified: 25-06-2019


Student retention and attrition rates have been established as Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for course teams in the Higher Education landscape in the UK. Against this quantified (and neoliberal) auditable undertaking, in this paper we offer an examination of a set of alternative qualitative efforts which are intended to improve the first year student experience by helping students transition into their course, and university life more generally. Working with students to enhance the first year experience is at the centre of our ontological position and we draw heavily on the idea of a “long thin” induction which continues throughout the first year at university. We explore the benefits of facilitating ‘students as producers’ and incorporating ‘student intelligence’ into university teaching and learning practices before presenting a series of activities that are designed to help students transition successfully and build a strong course identity. Having offered students different ways of structured integration into the course we reflect on how these activites can help first-year students develop the kinds of skills and knowledge base that contributes to a better experience of the transition and acculturation into university life in all of its facets.

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