The Higher Education Academy report Undergraduate attainment and retention across the disciplines (Woodfield 2014) highlights Philosophy and Religious Studies as one discipline cluster for comparison and comment. This supplementary report explores some of the findings in more detail and suggests some of the sources of differences in retention and attainment for the disciplines covered; and it points to other possible areas of research that might improve future development of retention and attainment at a discipline level. It should be read in conjunction with that original report.
The report explores three main areas where student retention, and some aspects of attainment, could be improved by consideration of the motivations of students to study PRS disciplines; their cognitive journey and personal experiences of encountering troublesome and personally challenging concepts; how the PRS disciplines present themselves to students through role models and engagement with views of wider society and the nature of higher education itself; and through consideration of how students benefit from studying PRS and what learning gain they actually experience.
The intended readership for this report is teachers of Philosophy and Religious Studies; those with a strategic concern for enhancing attainment and retention at the departmental and institutional level, and those specifically interested in the discipline perspective. It has been written to be accessible to any reader interested in the issues Woodfield (2014) raises.