What Works at Wolves: W3

What Works at Wolves (W3):  Is part of the What Works: Retention and Success Programme funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and the HEA. 

This project builds on the work of the Disparities in Student Attainment (DiSA) project (Cousin, Singh, Cureton & Adefila, 2012) which identified that learning relationships are crucial to student attainment, engagement and their sense of belonging in Higher Education. 

This work identified, inter alia, that not understanding assessment requirements caused anxiety in students and a reduction in that anxiety enhances student engagement.  McGinty (2011) also proposes that assignment feedback also provides student with a sense of belonging, as it provides level 4 students with confirmation of being on the right course and having potential to be successful.  The aim of this programme is to generate a greater sense of belonging in level 4 students through removing barriers to, and enhancing engagement in, assessment which will ultimately impact on other areas of academic life. 

This will be achieved through four activities:

  1. ensuring that all assignment briefs are accessible and understandable
  2. dedicating class time to processing the assignment briefs with students
  3. gaining student feedback to improve assignment briefs and assessment processing
  4. embedding a culture of assessment for learning to raise attainment. 

McGinty, S. (2011) First Year Humanities and Social Science Students’ Experiences Of Engaging With Written Feedback In A Post-1992 University. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Wolverhampton.

Project Aims

Our aim is to develop dialogic assessment practices because our evidence points to critical links to this and success.  This will be achieved by participative action research with students, programme teams and educational researchers.  As evidence emerges we hope to deliver a compelling case for institutional embedding. 

This will involve three programme action research teams and periodic Consensus Oriented Research Approach with students.  This project will regularly report to the University Student Experience Committee. 

The disciplines involved are:

  1. Sports sciences in School of Sport, performing Arts and Leisure
  2. Design and Textiles, in the School of Art and Design
  3. Biomedical Sciences in the School of Applied Sciences. 

These subjects cover arts, science and performance based subjects, thus allowing for a better understanding of change in all subject areas and will provide generalizable good practice for institutional embedding of good practice.  Within the time we will have improved retention, progression and withdrawal rates and have positively impacted on student satisfaction scores (i.e. NSS results) in those areas.  This will benefit students, staff and the institution.

For further information see the student retention and success change programme on the HEA website.