Promoting First Year Student Success

Deady, Nóirín, O'Brien, Con and Dunne, Claire (2011) Promoting First Year Student Success. [Conference Proceedings]


Significant research has linked the relationship between a successful first year student experience and graduation rates (Tinto, 1993; Levitz, Noel, & Richter, 1999; Gardner, Barefoot &Swing, 2001; Gardner et al, 2005). Recognising this dynamic relationship, one of University College Cork's strategic goals is to 'improve the Student Experience' paying particular attention to those in first year. A Vice President for the Student Experience was appointed in January 2008 to provide strategic leadership to the development of an integrated and holistic student experience. Since 2008 UCC has adopted a particular focus on improving the First Year Student Experience and a First Year Student Experience Coordinator has responsibility for coordinating support for first year students. Harvey et al (2006) concluded that there is no single first year experience but a multitude of first year experiences. The challenge for UCC was to find ways of optimising the chances of success for students presenting from different age groups, from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds and with different socio-economic histories. Many first year students are in transition not only to UCC but also to adulthood - a period viewed by Hall (1904) to be a time of heightened conflict, mood disruption and risk behaviour - a period of 'storm and stress' when extra support is critical in the early period of transition. In this regard, UCC recognised the importance of Orientation because it marks the beginning of a new educational experience. It is the best opportunity to welcome students, to promote student interaction and to introduce students to the university. Annual student feedback on orientation since 2007 and analysis of first year student retention data identify a matrix of factors which impact on student success in the first year. This poster presentation summarises the activities promoting first year student success in University College Cork and the impact that these initiatives have had on improving retention rates among first year students.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf]
NAIRTL 5th Annual Conference.pdf

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