The IWISE (Institutional-wide approach to Improving Student Engagement) team is a cross-institutional team of 12 members, comprised of senior staff, students’ union, professional services, and academics from seven disciplines areas. Aligned to the University’s vision to transform lives, stretch minds, develop skills and raise ambitions, one of the key institutional priorities is to improve student retention and success (SRS).
The overarching team aim was to provide transformative, high quality, learning experiences through the promotion of meaningful staff student partnerships that engender a shared responsibility. In recognition of the team’s unique make-up and strategic vision to transform student experiences and outcomes and contribute to sustainable learning and teaching excellence, IWISE:
- Undertook a whole-institution approach to understanding retention issues, implementing and evaluating interventions, and disseminating and embedding effective evidence-based practice across Ulster and beyond
- Adopted a ‘students as partners’ approach to the process of change
- Focused on changing learning and teaching culture to value and prioritise success.
In recognition that ‘no one size fits all’ in relation to students as partners, the team took a flexible and creative approach resulting in a diverse range of interventions, being introduced and evaluated, aimed at increasing all students’ sense of belonging, engagement, and self-confidence.
Impact of work
There has been a significant number of positive outcomes and demonstrative impact because of the process of change:
- Improvements in student continuation rates, increased success, more satisfied students and enhanced employability
- Improved capacity of staff and students to work together and better use of data to inform and develop enhancement literacy
- Greater understanding and shared responsibility of the issues impacting on SRS
- Effective practice rolled out to other discipline areas
- Pedagogic research outputs and on-going development of curriculum design tools
- Reward and recognition including HEA Fellowship, L&T awards and promotion.
Plans for the future
The IWISE model is an exemplar of effective practice in line with the HEA’s recommendations and new insights about SRS outlined in the What Works? Phase 2 final report. IWISE will assist in facilitating solutions to challenges faced by other institutions through the implementation of effective change for sustainable learning and teaching excellence.
Dr Roisín Curran
Professor Ian Montgomery
Professor Aine McKillop
Ms Grainne Dooher
Ms Avril Honan
Dr Michaela Black
Ms Hazel Bruce
Mrs Alison Gault
Dr Michaela Keenan
Mrs Claire McCann
Mr Terry Quigley
Mrs Amanda Zacharopoulou
The IWISE (Institutional-wide approach to Improving Student Engagement) team