Coping with the first fail: a strategic approach to student retention

Simon Smith, Andrea Lee


This short report presents the findings of a pilot study conducted to tackle student attrition within year 1 undergraduate business school programmes. The approach tracks across a year of study 13 Accounting and Finance students (the business programmes with distinctly the worst attrition statistics) from a cohort of 92 who failed their very first assessment in higher education. A variety of interventions were used within an action research approach, including interviews, coaching and general academic skills support classes. 12 of these 13 ‘at risk’ students successfully passed their year of study and continued their studies within the institution. Ultimately, the study presents an alternative and strategic micro-level approach that could prove useful in the continuous efforts towards improving student retention.


Student Retention; Undergraduate Learning; Coaching

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