Vol 3, No 1 (2017)

This special issue of The Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change is slightly different from previous issues in that it focuses on a particular programme, known as ‘REACT’, funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE). ‘Realising Engagement Through Active Culture Transformation’, or REACT, looks closely at the engagement of so-called ‘hard-to-reach’ students in Higher Education (HE), and this issue of the journal provides a kaleidoscope of views and standpoints, starting points and conclusions, through both qualitative descriptions and reporting of quantitative data.  It is not a ‘recipe book’ for ‘student engagement’. There is no clear-cut, neat picture of what ‘student engagement’ is, nor of what characterises a ‘hard-to-reach’ student. However, overall, it gives a rich picture of the many complexities of engaging with students who are less likely to engage, and of the many ways in which universities are working to understand the issues and consequences and to engage all students more effectively.

In all, forty-four contributions make up this issue, in the form of research articles, case studies and opinion pieces. Much has already been written on the topic of ‘student engagement’, but the importance of this particular set of pieces is that they narrow the focus of ‘student engagement’ by concentrating specifically on ‘hard-to-reach’ students. This does not mean narrowing or ‘closing down’ any aspect of discussion on the topic, but it provides a particular lens with the potential to inform wider debates.

Given the large number of contributions, this issue of JEIPC has also been set out slightly differently from usual, making use of thematic headings to organise the papers. Although the nature of students’ engagement means there is considerable cross-over between themes (and, indeed, some papers could fit under several themes), it is hoped that this organisational framework will make the content more coherent and accessible for the reader. Each of the themes is highlighted below.

Full Issue

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Table of Contents


Foreword PDF
Elizabeth Stuart 5

Editorial Team

Editorial PDF
Elisabeth Dunne, Tom Lowe, Stuart Sims, Cassie Shaw, Wilko Luebsen, Chris Guggiari-Peel, Owen Humphrey 6-13


Maintaining criticality: attempts to stop an unacceptable proportion of students from feeling alienated PDF
Catherine Bovill 14-17

Introductory articles

Realising Engagement through Active Culture Transformation: An Introduction to the REACT Programme PDF
Elisabeth Dunne, Tom Lowe, Stuart Sims, Wilko Luebsen, Chris Guggiari-Peel 18-23
Setting the scene for the REACT programme: aims, challenges and the way ahead PDF
Tom Lowe, Elisabeth Dunne 24-39
The REACT Collaborative Development Programme: Bringing universities together to enhance student-engagement activities for the ‘hard to reach’ PDF
Elisabeth Dunne, Tom Lowe 40-5
Who They Are and How to Engage Them: A Summary of the REACT Systematic Literature Review of the ‘Hard to Reach’ in Higher Education PDF
Cassie Shaw, Owen Humphrey, Tali Atvars, Stuart Sims 51-64
'Bubbles of Perspective': A reflection on Higher Education and the REACT Project PDF
Samuel Peter Chivers 65-67

The Shifting Context of Higher Education

Reframing 'Hard to Reach' Student Engagement PDF
Hannah Goddard 68-70
The Potential Impact of the TEF on Engaging ‘Hard to Reach’ Students PDF
Corony Edwards 71-73
Found in Translation?: The new Language of Student Engagement PDF
Phil Mooney 74-75
Learning Analytics: The Emperor’s New Clothes? PDF
Sue Milward 76-77
Do Graduates Need an Understanding of Change? PDF
Jack Rhys Hancock 78-80
Enhancing Student Representation PDF
Alexander Thomas George Bols 81-89
Where next for Student Engagement? PDF
Yaz El Hakim 90-92

Retention and Attainment

Exploring the role of co-curricular student engagement in relation to student retention, attainment and improving inclusivity PDF
Stuart Sims, Wilko Luebsen, Chris Guggiari-Peel 93-109
Is co-curricular engagement the key to success for ‘hard to reach’ students at the University of Exeter? PDF
Chris Guggiari-Peel 110-121
Examining predictors of retention with implications for TESTA@Greenwich PDF
Simon Walker, Duncan McKenna, Abdillahi Abdillahi, Catherine Molesworth 122-134
To engage or not to engage? That is the question. Students' Perceptions of Engagement at a West Midlands University PDF
Jane Beniston, Deborah Harris 135-146
Why is the BME attainment gap such a wicked problem? PDF
Liz Austen, Caroline Heaton, Stella Jones-Devitt, Nathaniel Pickering 147-158

Engagement, Belonging and Identity

Sowing Seeds, Growing Roots: How Engagement Led Me to Flourish in University PDF
Claire Alison 159-161
Picture this: engaging students – improving outcomes PDF
Tom Burns, Orion Griffiths, Maja Myhre, Sandra Sinfield 162-171
Exploring how a ‘Sense of Belonging’ is facilitated at different stages of the student journey in Higher Education. PDF
Owen Humphrey, Tom Lowe 172-188
Engagement, Disability, and Hard-to-Reach Students PDF
Peter Felten 189-191
Digital Media to ‘Engage the Disengaged’: Reaching out to Humanities Students at the University of Southampton PDF
Eleanor Quince, Charlotte Medland, Ellen Blacow, Kirstie Guildford, Ursula Grover, Florence Angelo 192-197
Developing an understanding of why students do not engage. PDF
Julie Irwin, John Knight 198-203

Partnership Approaches

Manchester in Partnership PDF
Julia Smith, William Carey, Paul Chapman 204-217
A cross-university initiative to enhance SOTL through a students as partners approach PDF
Colin Bryson 218-228
Reflecting On Practice: Embedding Student Engagement Through Interdepartmental Partnership PDF
Catherine McConnell 229-233
Using Open Badges to support student engagement and evidence based practice PDF
Fiona Harvey 234-242
Reflections on developing Technology-Enhanced Learning through staff-student partnership - a case study of using mobile devices cross-institutionally PDF
Matt Elphick, Stuart Sims 243-250
‘Really free!’: Strategic interventions to foster students' academic writing skills PDF
Sandra Abegglen, Sandra Sinfield, Tom Burns 251-255
The undergraduate research project as co-creation: can we describe new forms of learning gain? PDF
Julie Wintrup 256-258

Peer Learning Communities

Reaching hard to reach students through student learning communities PDF
Patrick Blessinger 259-261
‘Getting into the flow of university’: a coaching approach to student peer support PDF
Digby Warren, Wilko Luebsen 262-269
Technological Review of Higher Education Student Engagement Enhancement Using the Facebook Social Networking Site (SNS) PDF
Steven John Northam 270-273
One size does not fit all: Tailoring Peer Support Programmes for optimal student engagement PDF
Rosey Davies, Amanda Pocklington, Simon Allington 274-277

Reaching - Whose Responsibility?

Creation and Confidence: BME students as academic partners….but where were the staff? PDF
Stella Jones-Devitt, Liz Austen, Liz Chitwood, Alan Donnelly, Carolyn Fearn, Caroline Heaton, Gabrielle Latham, Jill LeBihan, Andrew Middleton, Matt Morgan, Helen Parkin, Nathaniel Pickering 278-285
Barriers to engagement at UCL PDF
Jenny Marie, Sally MacKenzie, Steve Rowett, Moira Wright 286-292
Lecture Capture – can it help ‘hard to reach’ students? PDF
Matthew Newcombe 293-295
Are all students 'hard to reach' in a digital higher education (H.E.) context? PDF
Stella Jones-Devitt, Liz Austen, Brian Irwin, Kieran McDonald, Helen J. Parkin 296-298
Reviving Humanity: Grasping Within and Beyond Our Reach PDF
Alison Cook-Sather, Olivia Porte 299-302
Which Lenses Best Help us Make our Practices Inclusive? PDF
Jenny Marie, Steve Rowett, Sally MacKenzie, Moira Wright, Sandra Lusk 303-305
Looking for people like me: The barriers and benefits to SU participation for working class students in an elite institution PDF
Dani Glazzard 306-319

Some Conclusions, and Where Next?

Concluding thoughts on the REACT Programme PDF
Elisabeth Dunne 320-329