Literature on communication features current research on communicating with student cohorts during the student life cycle.

Communicating with students

Barnes, et al. 2015. Track and Connect: Enhancing student retention and success

Barnes, S., Macalpine, G., & Munro, A. (2015). Track and connect: Enhancing student retention and success at the University of Sydney. A practice report. The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education, 6(1), 195-202.

Track and Connect is an intervention program designed to address attrition rates of first year students through detection of 'at risk' students and a strategy of targeted communication. During the program trained student staff members make contact at key points in the semester. 'At risk' students are connected to academic support services, personal support services and faculty-based assistance. Additionally, feedback to faculty can identify skills and knowledge gaps that may be addressed in the delivery of a course.

An analysis of the data shows positive results in lower attrition rates since implementation of the program, however, most significantly, student feedback reveals the value of peer-to-peer support and connection to key service areas.

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Hoskins, B. J. 2012. Connections, engagement, and presence

Hoskins, B. J. (2012). Connections, engagement, and presence. The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, 60(1), 51-53. doi:10.1080/07377363.2012.650573

In this short paper the author discusses the need for human interaction for successful online learning environments. Whilst the opportunity for connection through electronic devices grows, more complex interactions are required for quality participatory learning and cognitive absorption.

The conclusions from an analysis of the literature about online learning are that models based on constructivist principles, problem-based learning and interactive communication will result in higher student satisfaction levels that contribute to higher retention and success rates.

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Shillington, S. et al. 2012. Avoiding the goulash

Shillington, S., Brown, M., Mackay, A., Paewai, S., Suddaby, G., & White, F. (2012). Avoiding the goulash: Closing gaps and bridging distances. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 27(1), 65-80. doi:10.1080/02680513.2012.640789

This paper addresses the problem of delivery of equitable services to both online and on-campus students at Massey University while meeting government key performance indicators to secure funding. A holistic framework involves a "blurring of the edges" between support for on-campus and distance students so that intervention services interface coherently with each other. The underpinning intentions and institutional supports are based on research and defined principles thereby avoiding the ad hoc nature of retention activities.

A set of online tools and resources were developed and aligned with the framework informing the intervention activity to be provided to a particular cohort at a given time in the student life-cycle. Additionally the university proactively links students to services via targeted communication strategies.

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West B. et al. 2015 Beyond the tweet: Using Twitter

West, B., Moore, H., & Barry, B. (2015). Beyond the tweet: Using twitter to enhance engagement, learning, and success among first-year students. Journal of Marketing Education, 37(3), 160-170. doi:10.1177/0273475315586061

This study of 411 first year students in marketing and fashion courses attempts to investigate the benefits of using Twitter for learning and student engagement. The authors posit that providing students with opportunities to use social media tools in formal study would result in applying them more effectively in a business context.

The study focused on whether Twitter use impacts on course engagement, satisfaction and final semester grades. An online questionnaire was developed to assess student perceptions of their experience including their classroom interactions, feelings of connectedness, the learning of course materials and their enjoyment of using Twitter. Overall, the results show Twitter has a positive impact, however it remains unclear as to whether Twitter use contributes to student success, or whether there are other more important factors such as motivation and learning styles.

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