Student engagement is very much in the news, has never been more important and is about to shoot to the top of many educational organisations agendas as the government launches its white paper ‘Success as a Knowledge Economy along with the soon to be launched Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Both these put students very firmly centre stage, so student engagement is here to stay!
We all know that students are now investing more than ever in their education, both in monetary terms and in their expectations of getting value for money and good career prospects at the end of their degree, they are consumers and they have choices.
But engagement is a very generic term and will mean different things to different organisations, there has been plenty written about student engagement (just do a Google search) and many bodies have contributed and will have a view on the new white paper and TEF. As I ploughed through the hundreds of Google search results, some common themes become apparent and can be summarised under some broad areas below.
- Good relationships – between students and academics
- Regular feedback on learning
- Student involvement in curriculum creation
- Peer to Peer learning – students helping each other
- A sense of belonging
- Importance of place and space
Some organisations have already truly embraced student engagement and some think they have, but in reality have a way to go yet. There was some evidence of sharing of best practice but also of uncertainty around the practical elements of managing and reporting on student engagement.
Hand in hand with student engagement goes student retention, and there is plenty written on this too. So, you attract your students, you start to engage them and now you need to make sure you hang on to them – what you need is a solution to bring all this together, that adds value to students, academics and administrators and their inevitable need to report back to the new Office for Students (OfS).
Using an Attendance and Engagement Recording solution will tick some of these boxes and help you understand engagement and retention levels via recording attendance, recording contact, planning workloads and managing progression. It will give your university or college the ability to intervene at an early stage, especially with those less engaged and hard to reach student groups. It also gives the student a feedback mechanism that fosters positive relationships between them and the academic staff.
Choosing a solution can be daunting, so look for one that can integrate with legacy systems (there really is no need to reinvent the wheel) and one that bridges the gap in missing functionality.
No doubt there is a lot of work to be done to bring all aspects of engagement and retention together and higher education providers are going to have to make some key changes in how they operate to meet the demands placed on them by government– but change always brings opportunity for positive improvements as well.
If you are interested to know how we can help you with engagement and retention recording please give us a call on 01495 565666 or email firstname.lastname@example.org