Examining predictors of retention with implications for TESTA@Greenwich
Student attrition is a pressing issue that universities across the world are attempting to solve. More recently, there has been a focus on retaining students from so-called ‘hard to reach’ groups. This paper proposes a methodology that investigates potential predictors of retention within the context of a particular institution, with the aim of defining who our ‘hard to reach’ students might be. It includes TESTA, a feedback and assessment enhancement process, as an independent variable to determine whether this particular enhancement initiative had any positive effects on retention. The authors use a statistical technique that permits a comparison of retention within the same programmes, pre- versus post-TESTA, relative to background changes in retention in programmes without TESTA over the same timescale. The results of our analysis revealed that of the 10 predictors selected, the following were statistically significant: age group; gender; ethnicity; highest qualification on entry; academic session. These form the basis of our definition of who are ‘hard to reach’ students at our university. Whilst TESTA had no statistically significant impact on retention, several important implications for making specific interventions through TESTA in relation to assessment design and delivery to increase retention are discussed.
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