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Student Success: retention

19 Oct 2021 | Advance HE Student Success is a six-month longitudinal project for the Connect Benefit Series 2021-22 focusing on access, retention, attainment and progression, and embedding employability in higher education. This is the first in a series of podcasts previewing the findings of a literature review on access, retention, attainment and progression 2016-21.

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 first podcast explores the area of retention. Dr Rebecca Hodgson, Associate Dean Teaching and Learning and Dr Liz Austen, Head of Evaluation and Research discuss differing definitions of retention and persistence and associated measures of impact, the concept of belonging and mattering, and specifically ‘interactions’ and ‘validations’. They finish by discussing how these findings could enhance pedagogical practices and institutional governance.

Advance HE Members can download the retention podcast here   


Register your interest in the upcoming access, retention, attainment and progression literature review and book your place on the related events. 

Find out more about related outputs

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