Exploring the psychological contracts of 1st year psychology students and associated links to retention

H. Whiteley, P. Hornby-Atkinson, E. Connors, D. Putwain, Derek Larkin, L. Sumner, A. Yale

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The psychological contract has been identified as a significant predictor of retention in higher education (Charlton, Barrow and Hornby-Atkinson 2006). This HEA Psychology network funded programme seeks to assess the impact of an 'intervention' designed to manage the psychological contract between 1st year undergraduate students and their tutors in the context of an evolving student-centre programme of personal and academic development planning (PAD). An action research approach is adopted. A range of other academic related measures are used to help provide a greater understanding of why students persist or not with HE and to place the psychological contracts data in a wider context. The findings reveal variations in the expectations of both staff and student samples as well as gaps between what staff and students expect in terms of the student/HE relationship. Several differences emerged between those students who leave and those who persist with their study to the end of year 1. In particular, students who leave are more likely to expect that lectures and handouts will provide all the information they need to pass the course, engage in greater self-handicapping behaviour and show a significant fall in their performance approach scores across the year suggesting reduced effort, persistence and aspirations. The qualitative data provide insights into differences between the expectations of younger and more mature students and provide a rich context for interpreting the quantitative measures. Actions that have arisen as a consequence of this research are summarised as are plans for future research in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2010
EventPsychology Learning and Teaching Conference - Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Duration: 30 Jun 20102 Jul 2010


ConferencePsychology Learning and Teaching Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Dive into the research topics of 'Exploring the psychological contracts of 1st year psychology students and associated links to retention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this