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Iceberg Reading Time: 3 minutes

Is your subject set up to maximise retention?

startOver the past 10 years, the Open University (OU) has been systematically using learning analytics to uncover evidence as to how different kinds of designs impact on student behaviour, satisfaction and performance. One very practical outcome from this work is a guide on designing for student retention, called the ICEBERG model, which draws together design principles and 10 action tips on how to effectively design so as to retain students. Here are a few that relate to the start of session:

  1. Engage students early and draw them in. The first 2 weeks are of critical importance. Keep workload manageable, and start with the more straightforward concepts.
  2. Look for potential retention blackspots (e.g. challenging threshold concepts, collaborative activities, tasks that require learning new technologies), and set up a subject team meeting to put supports in place to help students through these.
  3. Do a workload audit. Workload has been found to be a key influence on student completion and retention (and interestingly, assimilative activities – attending to information – were the only type of activity with a significant negative correlation to completion and pass rates). Remember, we’re aiming for 12-14 hrs per week. Is it clear what is critical and what is ‘interesting’?
  4. Don’t make it hard to find stuff. The more cognitive energy goes into working out where things are and what to do, the less goes into learning.
  5. Build in sufficient opportunities for self- and formative assessment.
  6. Build in sufficient retention and revision time to enable students to consolidate their learning and prepare assessments.

Are there any areas you can further improve before session starts to maximise retention?


Tech tip: Personalising your student messages

Last session we shared some quick coding tips that you can use to customise your landing pages. One of those was a short code which, when added to your page, gives a personal welcome to each student (thanks to Paola Castillo in the School of Psychology for finding this)!

Since then, colleagues from the Faculty of Arts and Education have taken it one step further, and personalised their landing page header to include not only the students’ name but also the subject name. This can then be copied as the header to any subject site.

To find out how to do this, check out this page. You’ll find more tips and tricks about customising your landing pages in our CSU wiki.


Conferences and special issues

ASCILITE2018ASCILITE 2018 Call for Participation – 13 July 2018

ASCILITE is one of the key learning and teaching conferences in Australasia, especially focusing on the use of educational technologies. I’ve been attending since 2004, and highly recommend it! This year’s conference will be held at Deakin University (Geelong campus) from 25 to 28 November. The call for participation is live and we are excited at the prospect of receiving your contribution. Full details are available here.

JULTPCall for Submissions – Special Issue on Implementing Online Learning in Australia

This special themed issue 2019 of the Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice (JUTLP) seeks to showcase innovative and progressive features of contemporary university online learning and teaching through illustrative case studies.  Authors are invited to submit expressions of interest in the special issue in the form of extended abstracts of 350-400 words. See the full call for submissions here.


Not confident in your SoTL skills?

HERDSA (Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia) has developed a series of modules to build capacity in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL).

The five self-paced Modules include:

  1. Learning to speak SoTL;
  2. Conceptualising a SoTL project;
  3. Designing and conducting a SoTL project;
  4. Writing up SoTL findings; and
  5. Disseminating SoTL findings.

If you aren’t a HERDSA member, CSU has purchased an Institutional license which allows you to access the modules.To gain access to the modules, please contact Matthew Larnach.