Retaining students who 'did not participate': Two case studies and lessons for universities

Dennis Bryant, Alice Richardson, Keith Lyons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigated fulltime, continuing students who gained 'did not participate' grades in all four of their semester units. The thesis was that such student failures could be a consequence of institutional learning environments, relating in particular to university policies and procedures that might discriminate insufficiently in their scope or application. As regards methodology, a quantitative analysis (Failure percentage, High Distinction percentage, Group Learning Attainment, and Merit Shown) was conducted on unit level data to measure the reasonableness of learning outcomes, and these tests were supplemented by student case studies, where student actions were inferred from quantitative analysis. Although interviews with students were unavailable, case studies were analyzed to provide potentially greater understanding of student learning experiences. Results show that weakly discriminating university policies and procedures were likely contributors to 'did not participate' failure, though the extent of institutional impacts was not uniform across students. The implications for university policy and procedures are twofold. Universities need to gain a discriminating understanding of 'did not participate' failing learning journeys, which could be gained through using a wider battery of analysis tests; and secondly, to review formulated policy and procedure intentions against those findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Learning in Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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