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Enhancing Student Retention: The SMHS Student Retention Checklist Tool

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 11:30am – 12:00pm parallel session



Room 7 – 301-G053 Med Chem



Associate Professor Shelley Beatty
Edith Cowan University, Australia



Comprehensive and coordinated whole-of-university strategies across key phases of the student journey are key elements to enhancing student retention and success. Academic staff have a key role in supporting student success and improving student retention. The activities undertaken during the first few weeks of semester are critical. Sometimes students drop out of units because they make informed choices to enrol in alternative courses, but often students fail to engage because of issues that are within the control of academic staff.


The Issue

Embedding retention-enhancement strategies into all courses is key priority in the School of Medical and Health Sciences (SMHS) at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Western Australia.  One of the challenges for an Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning) is to assist already-busy academic staff to implement university-wide teaching and learning priorities whilst at the same time not overburdening them with more and more things to get done. In 2017 a new Technology-enhanced Learning Blueprint was released at ECU that documented minimum requirements for curriculum delivery. In this session the Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) from the SMHS at ECU will share how the dissemination and implementation of this blueprint was leveraged in order to address another of ECU’s university-wide priorities i.e. improved student retention. The methodology and results of a pilot project to enhance retention will be discussed and how the requirements of the ECU Technology-enhanced Learning Blueprint were operationalised into a Retention Checklist tool will be presented. The SMHS Retention Checklist will be made available at this session.


Intended Outcome

While it is ‘early days’, in all but one of the 10 broad disciplines in SMHS, well above the university target of 80% student retention was  achieved at the Semester 2, 2018 census date (i.e. the date after which students are financially penalised if they withdraw). When comparing unit retention at census in Semester Two, 2017 with unit retention at census in Semester Two, 2018, retention in two of the 10 SMHS discipline areas remained the same (i.e. 91% & 98%) and the remaining eight disciplines improved their unit retention at census. These results are promising but whether they carry over into enhance overall course retention (i.e. course completion) is yet to be seen.


Presentation topic

Students – Wellbeing and Success

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