Changing Assessment to Improve Student Retention and Success

Andrea Cerevkova

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Student retention is a cause of concern for many higher education institutions. Early interventions aimed at improving student retention focused on student support mechanisms (see for example, Thomas et al., 2002). However, a shift has gradually been made towards learning, teaching and assessment practices which focus on student engagement with their studies. Crosling et al. (2009) identify engaging students in their studies as the major need for retaining students and stemming attrition. Over the years, the Department of Law and Criminology at Edge Hill University has adopted various learning and teaching approaches to encourage students to engage with their studies. These included: early diagnostic exercises, comprehensive induction programme, formative assignments, amongst others. 38 However, despite a number of measures introduced in efforts to reduce the retention problem, the Department continued to be faced with low progression rates of Level 4 students in particular. This work in progress presentation will report on our latest initiative which involves assessment of students‟ performance in seminars. Using assessment and feedback as tools for engagement has been proposed by Krause (2007) as one of the effective strategies for enhancing student engagement with learning. With greater emphasis on skills-based education, grounded in the need for critical thinking and problem-solving capacities demanded by everyday legal practice, the assessed seminars were designed to tests the students‟ level of preparation, depth of understanding of the relevant material, and quality of participation and leadership in group discussion. The initial findings from surveys conducted with both students and tutors demonstrate that the introduction of assessed seminars has had a beneficial impact on both student attendance and performance. This is consistent with Gow (reported in Hornby 2003) who found that in class assessment not only improved attendance and rates but also student motivation to learn. The presentation will describe the seminars‟ approach, teaching methodology, grading and goals. Student observations, reactions and comments will be presented, as well as tutors‟ reflections on the process and some of the issues which were identified with the assessment of student participation in class.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventSOLSTICE & Centre for Learning & Teaching (CLT) Conference - Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom
Duration: 8 Jun 20119 Jun 2011


ConferenceSOLSTICE & Centre for Learning & Teaching (CLT) Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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