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The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement

Sheridan, Frances (2013) The Fresher Agenda – Improving retention through early student engagement. In: 14th Biennial CSSI Conference: Mind, Body, Spirit: The Holistic Approach to the Student Experience Conference Proceedings. Confederation of Student Services in Ireland, pp. 29-33. ISBN 9780951467572

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A Study of Progression in Irish Higher Education by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in 2010 highlighted the issue of high attrition rates among first year Computer Science students (Chantler et Al, 2010). The importance of improving retention in Computer Science programmes is recognised and extensive research has been carried out to identify contributing factors (Kuh et al, 2007, Braxton, 2006).

Braxton 2006 identifies Student Course Learning as a fundamental contributor to success in higher education
encompassing 6 key areas including: academic attainment, acquisition of general education, development of academic
confidence, development of cognitive skills and intellectual disciplines, occupational attainment and preparation for adulthood and citizenship.

This paper presents the effects of a pilot project in which first year Computer Science students participated in a week long induction programme aimed at improving first year student retention through early student engagement. The induction programme had two key aims:
- Integrating new students into the School of Computing, giving them a sense of identity as Computing students
- Kick starting a series of transferable skills SWAT (Study Weapons and Tactics) workshops

The key focus of the programme was a week-long Problem Based Learning (PBL) project supported by faculty through
transferable skills workshops. Here, students competed in teams to plan a Fresher’s Week event for first year students
in conjunction with the Students’ Union. This activity was further supported by interactive introductory lectures, career talks and past project presentations. The week culminated in Dragons Den style presentations of the three finalist ideas where the winning team was chosen and prizes were awarded.

This paper is structured as follows. Section 1 describes the challenges faced by Computing Departments in third level
institutes in tackling student retention. Section 2 outlines the induction programme introduced by the Computing Support Service at NCI. Section 3 is a discussion of the outcomes of the programme followed by the plans for future development of the programme in Section 4.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics > Electronic computers. Computer science
T Technology > T Technology (General) > Information Technology > Electronic computers. Computer science
Divisions: School of Computing > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2014 14:27
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2014 14:27

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