Leeds Trinity may be a small university but it’s incredibly student focused with a clear mission to ensure all students feel part of a distinctively supportive community. In 2019 as Head of student engagement and communications, I helped to significantly improve the organisational efficiencies to increase student support and take a more proactive approach to progression and retention with the guidance of Jisc’s Discovery expertise.
“We have a pastoral, ethical and moral obligation to have student interventions in place at appropriate times”
Before seeking Jisc’s support our biggest challenges were around student progression, retention and the need to improve student’s academic skills. We wanted to monitor student engagement accurately and proactively identify at risk students before anything snowballed.
Recognising the lack of joined up processes, we implemented internal systems and a centralised team to help manage improvements in retention, which proved successful after just a few months. However, we still struggled with data capture and data centralisation. Our internal efforts were recognised at Executive level and we quickly secured funding to bring in Jisc’s learning analytics consultancy support. With a previous unsuccessful system implementation, there was a mix of expectations which we needed to overcome with successful outcomes.
“It was vital we got academics and students involved in the procurement processes from the start. We knew we had an opportunity to learn from them and it was important we didn’t decide on a solution without them”
Working with Jisc:
“We knew we would be able to work closely with Jisc, what they offered wasn’t an off-the-shelf solution. They wanted to deliver something quite specific for us. The academics also really valued being part of the wider Jisc LA user community”
Jisc ran Discovery workshops across two days run by their consultants Steve and Peter, working closely with academic steering groups, professional support teams, IT leaders, students and senior management. We were clear that we did not want to view the Jisc learning analytics solution over these days – the aim of the workshop was to inform our business case and approach to the project.
- Evidence to support our business case, identifying; challenges, gaps in data, systems and process improvement requirements
- Expertise and unbiased service recommendations at each stage
- Informed project plans and risk register early on to address data challenges
- Identified attendance monitoring need which led to the successful implementation of a suitable solution and ability to discover more at-risk students sooner.
- Delivered big hearts and minds at leadership level showing what happens when we get it right
“Having Jisc come in was a big education for us, it brought in the expertise and backing that we needed, it allowed us to look at the bigger picture and really understand what’s needed in terms of data. It was a very steep learning curve for us and helped to recognise the importance of slowing down and ensuring we had our processes in order”
“The Discovery days were great, seeing how passionate our academics were about supporting students really came out during the sessions”
Looking to the future:
COVID-19 meant we have had to readjust our plans but we now have the structure in place to best support both staff and students. We are looking at ways we can further present student data going forward and are implementing Jisc’s learning analytics solution. We continue to work closely with our LA consultants and the wider Jisc community of practice.
“The academics in the steering group were excited to see the potential this has to enhance their work”
Authors from Leeds Trinity:
Meaghan Banham – Head of student engagement and communications
Rachel Glynn – Project Manager and business analyst