Building blocks of student engagement

Julie J Warden (University of Bradford)

Thursday, April 01, 2021 9:00 AM - 9:45 AM

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Session Outline

The presenter will share steps used in this project to engage learners. This will enable the audience to: Have an exemplar that will be useful for when designing a similar project; Reflect on ways to engage level 4 students to build their confidence around independent learning.

Highlights of a project at the University of Bradford, ‘Building blocks of student engagement’, outlines how additional personal tutoring successfully engages underperforming first year undergraduate science students, scaffolding their transition to becoming confident independent learners.

Phase 1 of project has been successful. Engagement in phase 2 is strong: 92% (phase 1) and 100% (phase 2) of students initially engaged, Engagement with support rose as online teaching increased. 80% (phase 1) continued to engage to the end of the project. 92% (phase 1) and 94% (phase 2) had not previously sought support (Thomas 2006); Students reported increased confidence with independent learning (Garbutt and Garbutt 2015). They valued support beyond their personal academic tutors, yet these two forms of support did not conflict.

Key takeaways include:

  1. Agree clear selection criteria to identify learners who are underperforming, and cross match this to your institution’s achievement gaps.
  2. Contact students individually in the first instance.
  3. Use a shared individual support plan to keep focus.
  4. Facilitate regular meetings, so the content of the plan remains current.
  5. All parties are kept informed and identify the outcomes achieved.


Lochtie, D., McIntosh, E., Stork, A., & Walker, B. (2018). Effective Personal Tutoring in Higher Education. St. Albans: Critical Publishing.