Programme Level Data

Progression

Student progression measures the number of students who remain on a course from one year to the next. Programmes will have varying progression rates, so you should be looking at trends as much as absolute values. However, as a rule of thumb, the externally-set benchmark for student progression from level 4 to level 5 at MMU is 92.5%. (You can look at the Higher Education Statistics Agency data for more information about this).

Questions programme teams might consider in relation to this data:

  • Is progression exceeding the benchmark in any area? What good practice may be contributing to this?
  • Are there differences between levels? For an UG programme, is progression better or worse going from level 4 to level 5, and level 5 to level 6? For a Masters’ programme, do more students than expected leave with a PGC or PGDip rather than a Masters?
  • Are there differences between courses in the same department and faculty? What might account for any variation?

Those who leave can, of course, be divided into two groups: students who withdraw by choice, and those who fail to progress because they do not pass their assignments.
The Yorke and Longden (2008) study of the first year experience highlighted these factors in programmes which are particularly likely to prevent students from considering early withdrawal from a course:

  • assisting students in the making of choices about their study;
  • being clear about what is in courses;
  • ensuring adequacy of resources;
  • managing the transition into higher education such that students gain an early appreciation of what higher education is asking of them

Note: whilst finance was also a problem for some students in the study, this is not something which programme teams can influence, so is not considered in this guidance.

Reinforcing these points, the MMU Staying the Course project also found that students with realistic expectations were much less likely to report difficulties with their learning experiences as a whole (Hamshire, C., et al., 2013). The final report from the ‘What Works?’ project on Student Success and Retention emphasises the importance of having a sense of belonging in student decisions about staying on. (Thomas, 2012)

Questions programme teams might consider in relation to this data:

  • What expectations about study, behaviour, engagement and assessment are set by your programme team? At what points are these expectations reinforced?
  • Does curriculum and assessment design and delivery support engagement?
  • Are the learning and teaching approaches used on the programme well adapted for your particular group of students?
  • Is there a consistent approach to personal and academic tutoring and support?
  • Are there any opportunities to use peer mentoring to support and integrate students?
  • Are there any opportunities for social, extra-curricular and enhancement activities linked to the programme, such as volunteering or the MMU Futures Skills Award?

When thinking about students who fail assignments, then you will probably want to look at the detailed data in the Marks section of the data in order to identify any particular issues.

 

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