P62 – Measures to reduce dropout – the more the better?

Room A – Tuesday 09:00-10:00

One hour paper

Paper + 2x show and tell, 60-minute slot (for structure, see abstract)

Elisabeth Hovdhaugen*, Eirik Welo**, Tor Egil Førland***

*Department of Education, UiO/NIFU

** Faculty of Humanities, UiO

*** Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History, Faculty of Humanities UiO

Hovdhaugen holds a PhD in Sociology, and the theme for her thesis was dropout and completion in HE. She currently works as a senior researcher at NIFU (Nordic Institute for studies in Innovation, Research and Education) and as assistant professor at the Department of Education, University of Oslo.

Welo is appointed Vice Dean for Studies at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo, and will hold this position until the end of 2018. He holds a position at the University of Oslo in Ancient Greek.

Førland is professor in History and the Head of Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History at the University of Oslo.

Summary

Retention rates among first year students at the Faculty of Humanities have been low for quite a while, but the institution have recently been working actively with the issue. Some departments have tried out many different forms of measures where others have chosen to bet on a few measures that they have implemented.

Paper-abstract:

The Faculty of Humanities at the University of Oslo have struggled with relatively low retention rates among their first year students for quite a while, and as a result of this the completion rates for bachelor students is low. However, attention to the issue of student retention is high, both at the faculty administration level and at all the seven departments at the faculty. However, there are variations in the approach different departments have chosen, in their strive to battle low retention rate and to foster enhanced engagement among first year students.

Some departments have tried out many different forms of measures where others have chosen to bet on a few measures that they have implemented. Measures that are related to progression or mastering of studies or how the studies are organized or structured are most common in numbers: most departments deploy these measures. However, at some departments are pedagogic measures, exemplified by ‘signature lectures’, quite common, and there are also a range of socializing measures that have existed for quite a while at all departments.

Based on the departmental self-evaluation reports of measures to battle low retention and dropout, it is hard to determine which of all these approaches have worked better. However, this is also partly related to the general focus on battling low retention rates at all departments in the Faculty of Humanities. The institutional engagement that all departments at the Faculty of Humanities display is genuine and display a devotion and a creativity in working to reduce dropout and enhance retention. This engagement in itself is important, as it function as a signal to students that they are at a department that actually care and that wish to see the students through to graduation.

Show and tell, representatives from Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo:

Eirik Welo
Vice Dean for Studies at the Faculty of Humanities

In recent years, the Faculty of Humanities has experienced low retention rates. In order to combat early student departure, the Faculty as a whole has tried a wide range of strategies. There is, however, still the need for better knowledge about effective measures. The Faculty aims at strengthening the retention rate based on knowledge of targeted measures that are at the same time reliable and resource effective, and seeks to develop suitable strategies based on this.

Tor Egil Førland

Head of Department – Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History

In 2011–14 HF’s Department of Archaeology, Conservation and History ran a two-stage project aiming to monitor and improve bachelor student retention rates in history. The progress—every exam in every course—of all bachelor students admitted to the history program in 2008 was analyzed, giving a picture of at which point students slowed down or dropped out of the program. This first stage showed that the students failing to take exams (i.e. no ECTS credits) in the first semester had a vastly higher dropout rate from the program (96 %) than students who took at least one exam (50 % among those with 10–20 credits and 40 % among those who with the “expected” 30 credits or more). In the second stage, the Department attempted to reach no-show students by hiring senior students as mentors. The mentors failed to get the non-starters to attend courses, however, and after two years the mentor program was deemed a failure and was closed down.

 

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