As part of the Connect Benefit Series on Student Success Advance HE will publish a literature review on access, retention, attainment and progression 2016-21. This integrative literature review presents evidence of demonstrable impact from interventions which seek to enhance student access, retention, attainment and progression in higher education, published between 2016 and 2021.
The review was conducted by a team of researchers at Sheffield Hallam University - Liz Austen, Rebecca Hodgson, Caroline Heaton, Nathaniel Pickering and Jill Dickinson. Impact evidence was reviewed using the Office for Students’ ‘standards of evidence’ and resulted in 161 pieces of literature being included in the evidence base.
This review collates evidence to reinforce many assumptions – interventions which show that a university cares, that their students matter and are designed from a student-centred perspective have an impact. The findings also suggest a clear relationship between each area - access, retention, attainment, and progression – in terms of intervention design and holistic impact on more than one outcome measure. The report also challenges sector stakeholders to fix the ‘leaky pipeline’ of impact evidence so that evaluation research can explore short, medium and particularly long term outcomes of interventions.
A series of four podcasts preview the review and discuss the findings. Each podcast explores key messages and areas of interest relating to interventions which have shown impact on access, retention, attainment and progression outcomes as distinct areas, and the connections between them.
The fourth podcast from this review explores the area of attainment. Dr Liz Austen and Dr Jill Dickinson discuss the links between retention and attainment, pedagogical approaches to supporting student success, and evidence pertaining to the online learning context. Gaps in the evidence relating to the impact of assessment practices on attainment outcomes and the role of student engagement as an intermediate factor are also discussed.