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Chapter 2 Engaging Students to Improve Retention and Success

Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body

ISBN: 978-0-85724-903-6, eISBN: 978-0-85724-904-3

Publication date: 28 June 2011


Purpose – This chapter identifies the reasons why institutions need to undertake transformation to engage a diverse student population: it presents a model of student retention and success, which centres on student engagement pre- and post-entry.

Methodology/approach – The chapter overviews the literature on student retention and success and utilises emerging findings from the meta-analysis of the What works? Student retention and success programme.

Findings – The emerging model puts student engagement at the heart of student retention and success. Institutions should promote engagement by•Provision of a range of opportunities for student engagement of different types, at different levels, across the institution in different sites (academic sphere, social sphere and professional services sphere), throughout the student lifecycle.•Developing students to recognise the importance of engagement and to have the capacity to engage in a range of opportunities.•Developing staff responsibility for and capacity to provide effective engagement opportunities.•Taking responsibility for engagement, including monitoring engagement and acting when there are indicators of lower levels of engagement.•Creating a partnership between students and institutions towards a shared outcome of successful learners and graduates.

Research limitations – This chapter draws on emergent findings from the What works? programme.

Practical implications – This chapter assists institutions to improve student retention and success by focusing on engagement and institutional culture.

Social implications – The model assists institutions to critically consider transformation to engage a diverse student population and improve retention and success.

Originality/value – The chapter pre-views original research about engagement, retention and success, which are international concerns.



Thomas, L. (2011), "Chapter 2 Engaging Students to Improve Retention and Success", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 41-55.



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