Student Retention
What do we know?
May, 2019
University Resources
Student Retention
This paper was developed by Professor Les Kirkup, to support the 20 Course Retention Project that ran across 2017. Professor Kirkup was supported in developing this summary by the Dean of Students, Professor Bernie Marshall, the Associate Deans Teaching and Learning and the Course Directors involved in the project. This document is part of a work in progress that aligns with our DVCE Liz Johnson’s student success and retention strategy.
The paper explores interventions that have been shown to impact on student retention, for example in their first year of studies. A summary is provided in tabular form that briefly describes the issues and how student retention and success may be supported. It includes specific evidence-based examples of successful interventions drawn from Australian and international sources that focus on:

  • students, early in their studies, such as: effective social and academic integration; enhancing the first-year experience; personalised feedback on early assignments; and early warning and support systems for students who are not engaging;
  • general teaching and learning matters, such as: creating inclusive, stimulating learning spaces for all students, both in the cloud and on campus; peer support and mentoring; building a strong sense of identity with the discipline; and scaffolding academic skill development across the course
  • general academic, professional and peer support, such as: enhanced instructor support for students; effective partnerships with students; personal and academic support; and frequent contact with students throughout the student lifecycle.
  • institutional climate, support and action, such as: clear retention-focused policies, priorities and actions; generating and using quality data on retention; and monitoring and evaluating student success and retention actions and initiatives.

Finally, consideration is given to several discipline-specific, retention-related interventions. Where applicable, an indication as to their ease of implementation, strength of impact and adaptability or transferability is provided. What have you got out of the experience?

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