The OU centre for STEM pedagogy
This project aims to improve student retention on U101, Design thinking. U101 is a gateway Level 1 design module and part of Q61 in Engineering and Innovation (E&I).
Student retention has been lower than other comparable Level 1 modules in E&I. In 21J U101 had 51.0% and in 20J 58.4% ‘first time completion rate’ compared to the faculty level average of 72.4%. In 21J the first-time completion rate for other comparable modules was 76.8% on U116, 70.0% on T192 and 70.2% on A111.
We are looking to investigate the reasons for the low levels of retention on U101. The project proposes to carry out an intervention study to see if we can improve retention for the 22J cohort. With these findings in mind, we plan to focus on tutor interaction and the relationship with students throughout the upcoming 22J presentation.
The project leads are module team members on U101. The leads will create a series of 30 digital postcards with one being delivered per week of the presentation to each student in the selected pilot tutor groups. The digital postcards will correspond to the block material highlighted on the U101 weekly planner. The emphasis will be on bite-sized information and have a visual focus rather than densely worded emails but no new module information will be provided to the pilot groups to ensure they do not have an academic advantage over their peers in the control groups.
In U101 21J there were 46 tutor groups across 13 regions. We aim to recruit 13 Associate Lecturers (ALs) representing each region to take part in this project and send out the postcards. We will use the remaining tutor groups as a control, against which we measure our results.
As part of our investigation, we will undertake a review of current literature on retention and look at other indicative factors affecting retention such as some of the differences between the related Level 1 qualifications.