The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.
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6:52pm on Wednesday, 15th March, 2017:
We had an "educational away day" at the university today. I suppose that technically it was an away day, as it was in a building a whole 20 metres from the one in which I work. Well, away part-day anyway, as it ran from 2pm to 5pm.
One of the main purposes of the away day was to think of ways to increase retention. Some 40% of our first-year students don't make it to the second year on their first attempt (and some 30% don't make it on subsequent attempts either). It looks as if early identification of struggling students promises to cut that down to 20% this year, but we really want them all to get into the second year. It's not influenced at all by the observation that if they do make it through, we can extract another £9,000 from them before they fail.
Anyway, before the meeting we were required to read a document of case studies from other universities that identified ways to increase student retention. I, it seems, was the only member of staff foolish enough actually to read this document, the others having decided they could probably wing it. Even the person who required us to read it hadn't much recollection of what was in it, so we didn't discuss it at all.
The thing is, all the ways that the document listed to increase retention among new students were straight out of the MMO newbie-retention handbook. A place where people can hang out between teaching events and make friends? Check. Organised groups led by experienced students that you can join? Check. A communication channel for students just like you? Check. A method of finding other people who are interested in the same things you are? Check. Fun tasks for people with different skills working together ? Check. Easy challenges with small rewards to get you into the swing of things? Check.
About the only suggestion that didn't map onto MMOs involved luring students to eventys with the promise of cake. That might work with students from other disciplines, but it wouldn't work for games students because none of them would believe it.
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