The learning university: call for a paradigm shift for student retention

For too long teachers (of every ilk) have been positioned as the experts. As I move through the different stages of education, I become increasingly aware that the resistance to giving up the title of the expert is fierce. But the world is changing. How we exchange ideas is changing. This is a concept I have been grappling with for a few years now. Below is a post I wrote 18 months ago on another blog. Maybe sharing it and re-reading it might spark some connections.


Despite almost fifty years of research into student retention and the first year at university not much has changed. I (and others such as Bowden and Marton, 1998) see the need for a paradigm shift in the way university is conceptualised.


Vincent Tinto, while not the first theorist of student retention, is the most referenced theorist in the field of student retention in the first year of higher education (FYHE). Influenced by the work of Astin, Tinto began to develop his model of student retention during the mid-1970s that centralised ‘involvement’ (or what is now termed ‘engagement’) as critical to student persistence (Tinto 2006/2007).

Tinto describes the development of FYHE as a field in a way that is very reminiscent of conceptual expansion and continually acknowledges the gaps and incomplete nature of research in the field. In his review of the literature on student retention and recommendation of future directions…

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