[Re]evaluating practice: measuring what is important, to inform improvements to student outcomes

Maria Spies, Margot McNeill, Suneeti Rekhari, Karen Woo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


In recent decades, higher education has undergone dramatic change as the sector grapples with increasingly diverse students in greater numbers, budgetary pressures and ever-growing competition. This paper describes a project undertaken by a global higher education provider that aimed to pilot a ‘driver tree’ that was devised using data from seventy four data points about students, academics and curriculum for improving the likelihood of retention and success. Observations, interviews and analyses were used to understand the current state and core issues affecting pass rates of identified units. From this, a set of interventions was developed, ranging from ‘immediate and direct’ to those involving longer term implementation with more stakeholders. The process for selecting and implementing the immediate interventions over one trimester is described. These include the targeted introduction of more scaffolding activities, standards-based assessment rubrics to guide student work, templates and samples of work, along with practice exams. Results are still being collated as the trimester is yet to finish, however early indications are that the interventions have already had positive impact. In one unit, the submission rate of the first assessment task improved by 40% and in another unit the average grade for task one increased by 9%. Final results will be available post- trimester, in April 2018. Comprehensive analysis will require long-term tracking, however directions for policies to embed consistency and quality are already emerging. These are relevant for all higher education providers, along with the processes used to plan, implement and evaluate the interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch and development in higher education: (re)valuing higher education
Subtitle of host publicationrefereed papers from the 41st HERDSA Annual International Conference
EditorsDale Wache, Don Houston
Place of PublicationHammondville, NSW
PublisherHigher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA)
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780908557967
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventHERDSA Annual International Conference (41st : 2018) - Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 2 Jul 20185 Jul 2018

Publication series

NameResearch and Development in Higher Education: [Re] Valuing Higher Education
ISSN (Electronic)1441-001X


ConferenceHERDSA Annual International Conference (41st : 2018)


  • retention
  • student success
  • curriculum transformation


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