Learning Innovation Unit, Dublin City University

Learning Innovation Unit

Learning Innovation Fund Awards

Dr Finian Buckley - RATE - Reduced Attrition Through Engagement

Principal applicant

Finian Buckley

School or Unit


Additional Applicants

Siobhain McGovern - Economics and Finance Group

Malcolm Brady - Management & MIS Group

Anne Sinnott - Marketing Group

Eileen Townsend - Accounting Group

Joanne Lynch - Marketing Group

Amount requested


Amount received


Summary description

This project is designed to proactively address some of the antecedents of student attrition in first year at university. To that end, support is sought to develop a two-week programme that underpins the development of a community of learners. As part of this programme, participants will be challenged to address and identify their personal learning styles, team learninf and creative thinking approaches in a non-threathning, social learning environment. The programme will be multidisciplinary in nature and will place particular emphasis on intercultural awareness.

The goal is that participants become independent and self reliant learners qithin a supportive learning network of their peers. They will develop self awareness and a group identity which is congruent with DCU identity and values.

Project URL


Strategic Objectives

1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3.2, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 5.1, 5.2, 6.4.

Strategic Context

The project provides an early foundation for inquiry led learning built on student awareness of personal strengths and needs (1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.3.2.)

The programme proactively aims to improve student retention (3.3) by creating a supportive, non-competitive community of learners.

The project will require that a team of academic staff be supported in developing the competencies to facilitate this innovative programme (5.1).

A full benchmarking exercise and follow-up will be an implicit part of the programme (5.2). The cultural diversity objective reflects the stated goal of achieving an intercultural campus.

Implementation Plan

1. Develop overt objectives and goals - FEBRUARY

2. Translation to programme content - MAY/JUNE

3. Staff Development - SEPTEMBER

4. Pre-Programme Plan - SEPTEMBER

5. Programme Implementation - OCTOBER (weeks 1 & 2)

6. Priliminary Evaluation - OCTOBER/NOVEMBER

The RATE team will carry out the project which will commence in February 2006 with a view to incorporation in academic structures at the March 2006 meeting.

We do not foresee any obstacles to meeting this schedule.

Taylor, R. (2005) Creating a Connection: Tackling Student Attrition through Curriculum Development. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 29(4), 367-374

White, M et al. (2004). Randomized Trial of Problem-Based Learning versus Didactic Seminars for Disseminating Evidence-Based Guidelines on Asthma Management to Primary Care Physicians. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 24, 237-243


The Programme will improve the learning experience for students by developing independent and self-reliant learners within a supportive learning network of their peers.

The benchmarking exercise and follow-up will allow us to evaluate the extent to which improvements have taken place. There will be inherent feedback to students, staff and key stakeholders.

Questionnaires will be used to assess student awareness of personal strengths and needs. Comparisons with a control group will be undertaken to measure changes in student retention. Interviews will be used to assess changes in academic staff competencies. Staff and student peer assessment will also be employed.

Dissemination and Sustainability

We view this as a pilot the objective of which would be to move it to a faculty wide exercise if it is successful. The hope is that this will become part of a larger redesign of the first year experience.

It is anticipated that the results will be disseminated in various ways including through DCUBS research seminars, through conference presentations and through AISHE.

Detailed budget

Staff training:

Two trainers for three days -

Fees 11.400

flights 1238

accommodation - 750

materials - 175 students at approx. 35 euro each 6125

TOTAL - 19513. (DCUBS Dean has agreed to cover euro 5000)

Amount sought - 14513

Current budget constraints within the faculty do not provide the flexibility to fully fund a project such as this.

We are estimate that each student retained beyond first semester is worth in excess of ten thousand euro in direct fees to the university.

The project will also provide us with a group of trained staff who wuill facilitate future dissemination.

Other Information


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