ELT Blog

12 Strategies to Reduce Student Failure Rates in New Universities

Starting university can be an exciting and challenging time for investor and founders. It's a time of new beginnings, new challenges, and new opportunities. However, it can also be a time of uncertainty and stress, especially for students who are not adequately prepared for the demands of higher education. As a newly established university, it is crucial to take proactive measures to reduce the failure rate among your students. Here are some strategies that can help:

1. Very careful and slow admission process
One of the first steps in reducing the failure rate among students is to have a very careful and slow admission process. Each student and parent should receive a detailed face-to-face consultation to ensure that their expectations align with the university's offerings. This will help set realistic expectations and reduce the likelihood of students dropping out due to mismatched expectations.

2. Allow Late Submissions
We all know that life happens, and sometimes students may need to submit their papers late. While it's important to have deadlines, allowing a grace period for late submissions can help reduce the stress and anxiety that students may experience. However, it's essential to set limits, such as not accepting papers that are more than 24 hours late, and to lower the grades of late submissions to emphasize the importance of meeting deadlines.

3. Feedback During Office Hours
Students should have easy access to their teachers for feedback and support. Teachers should be available for 10 to 15-minute meetings during their office hours, either in person or through email or a learning management system. This allows students to seek clarification and guidance on their assignments, reducing the likelihood of misunderstandings and mistakes.

4. Draft Submission
Encouraging students to submit draft versions of their assignments online allowing them to receive formative feedback before submitting the final version. Students should be required to produce at least 50% of their assignment as a draft to ensure that they are actively engaging with the material and seeking feedback.

5. General Feedback
Providing general feedback on draft assignments is crucial for students to understand the quality of their work. Teachers should analyze and distinguish between poor, mediocre, and well-written assignments. They should also elaborate on the strengths and weaknesses of the assignments, helping students identify areas for improvement.

6. Peer-Checking & Peer-Assessment
Peer-checking and peer-assessment can be valuable learning experiences for students. Encourage students to check each other's assignments during lessons. This not only helps students develop critical thinking skills but also fosters a sense of community and collaboration among students.

7. Templates & Checklists
Provide students with templates and checklists to help them structure and self-check their assignments. This ensures that students understand the expectations and requirements of each assignment and can take ownership of their learning.

8. Observing Teachers' Lessons
Module leaders should observe the lessons of their module teachers to ensure that they are using student-centered teaching methods. It's important for teachers to create a supportive and engaging learning environment where students can actively participate and achieve the intended learning outcomes.

9. Feedback to Teachers
Module leaders should provide constructive and timely feedback to their colleagues on their teaching methods. This feedback should highlight both positive aspects and areas for improvement. By supporting and guiding teachers, the university can ensure that students receive the best possible education.

10. Regular Formative Assessments
Program leaders should ensure that teachers incorporate regular formative assessments into their teaching. Formative assessments are not graded and do not have to be in the form of tests, quizzes, or in-class exams. They can take various forms, such as group discussions, presentations, or projects. These assessments provide valuable feedback to both students and teachers, allowing for ongoing improvement and adjustment.

11. Assessment Strategy Diversification
Assessment should not be limited to writing assignments only. Teachers should be encouraged to diversify their assessment strategies by incorporating simulations, group projects, group presentations, poster presentations, debates, and other interactive activities. This allows students to showcase their knowledge and skills in different ways, catering to their diverse learning styles and interests.

12. Run Teacher Training Courses for Faculty Members
Invest in the professional development of your faculty members by running mandatory teacher training courses. These courses should be offered during the summer for current teachers and before they start teaching for newly joining teachers. By equipping teachers with the necessary pedagogical skills and knowledge, they can provide high-quality education and support to their students.

By implementing these strategies, newly established universities can create a supportive and engaging learning environment that reduces the failure rate among students. Remember, it's important to continuously evaluate and adjust these strategies based on feedback and student outcomes to ensure ongoing improvement. Good luck on your journey to providing a successful and fulfilling educational experience for your students!
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