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Supporting diverse learners in their transition to higher education

Author(s): Irene Glendinning

Journal: Engineering Education
ISSN 1750-0044

Volume: 6;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 4;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: BME attainment | transition to higher education | students supporting students | student diversity

Extensive research throughout the UK and elsewhere in the world has revealed that students from certain black and minority ethnic (BME) communities are less likely to graduate and, on average, those that do graduate achieve lower grades than other students entering university with equivalent qualifications. However there are other categories, such as white British working class males and some international students, where the profiles for retention and attainment can be similar. In common with many other UK universities, there have been concerns for some time about the relatively high attrition rate in some subject areas of Coventry University, which has a very diverse student population with a relatively high number of students who are within the identified at-risk categories. With this in mind a cross-University team has been actively seeking ways to more effectively support all students before and after their arrival to ensure they integrate within the learning community, remain on course and achieve their full educational potential. This paper describes one of these initiatives: to create an inter-active pre-induction web site for the Faculty of Engineering and Computing to support new students leading up to their arrival. What makes this slightly different from similar web sites at other institutions is that it was designed, created and operated by Faculty students employed part time as Student Advocates in the Faculty’s Student Experience Enhancement Unit. The paper describes the difficulties encountered in creating and implementing the web site and how these were resolved, with particular focus on the student-led approach to development. Evidence is provided for the effectiveness of the intervention and plans are presented for the on-going development and enhancement of the web site and related resources.

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