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Within the School of Science and Engineering during the session 2000/2001 a policy was adopted of monitoring non-attendance as an early warning indicator and focusing action through the Advisor of Studies with reports to Programme Tutors, Personal Tutors, Student Services etc. as appropriate. For practical purposes a sample of appropriate modules were used to provide information required as indicative of the overall student progress, constituting no less than two modules per course. Further checks could be made as required but absence of two weeks in two modules is taken as sufficient to warrant action by Advisor of Studies if no information about cause can be identified. Where students have been withdrawn, regardless of the stated reasons, more meaningful information may be obtained if a follow-up letter is sent to request further information. Previously this has not been done but may be useful. Therefore the intention is to send a letter to all students withdrawn to obtain more meaningful information to help retain students. A similar, but less rigorous approach was used the previous session (however, the university structure was different to the current session) and there is evidence that the pass rate rose from 67% to 77% for Level 11. However, it is impossible to identify any single attributable factor for the increase in course performance, although significantly better than other School progression rates. It is clear that from the data that there are likely to be problems in progression at Level 2. In order to address this, monitoring non-attendance and subsequent action should focus on Level 1, Level 2 and Direct Entry students. Consideration and discussion on the issue of non-submission of coursework assignment as an additional measure to indicate poor performance is necessary within the School. I believe non-submission of coursework may be used as a formal indication of a problem requiring an interview. This is based on a general analysis of available module results with less than 70% pass rates. The analysis indicates that very few students that actually made submissions for all their assessments, subsequently failed a module. The major problem with these systems is that the time available to take effective action is limited. This therefore concentrates workload between weeks four and twelve of teaching.
Simpson, E. 2001. Addressing attendance. In: G. Cutler and S. Pulko, eds. Student Progression and Retention in Engineering. Hull: University of Hull. pp.52-58. Available from http://www.hull.ac.uk/engprogress/Prog1Papers/AbertaySimpsonAddressing%20Attendance.pdf