Collaborative Project-Based Learning can improve student retention
Yeom, S and Ryu, R and Herbert, N, Collaborative Project-Based Learning can improve student retention, Abstracts from Teaching Matters 2021, 29 November -1 December, 2021, Online, pp. 1-2. (2021) [Conference Extract]
Student retention is a focus for tertiary institutions. A lack of student engagement in ICT courses is a leading cause of attrition (Butler et al., 2015, Carini et al. 2006), often because of low levels of interaction with peers (Morgan et al., 2016; Petersen et al., 2016). Poor academic success also influences an ICT studentís decision to withdraw (Smith & Fernandez, 2014), which is problematic because introductory programming subjects have high failure rates worldwide (Watson & Li, 2014). A programming unit from our master course will be the case study for this presentation to highlight the impact of the collaborative project-based learning (CPBL) approach. In 2019 the failure rate reached 16% in this unit, coinciding with an increasing attrition rate which peaked at 15% in 2020. In 2021, the CPBL approach was adopted. CPBL is a student-centered teaching method based on collaborative learning theory allowing students to interactively engage in a project over time to develop knowledge and skills (Chen & Yang, 2019). Small groups of students followed a four-step process throughout semester that required them to investigate a problem, prototype a solution, evaluate the prototype, and present the prototype. Throughout this process, teams were required to collaborate to share their ideas and knowledge to enhance their learning. An analysis of studentsí performance indicates a statistically significant improvement in the average student result. Both the unit failure and attrition rates have significantly decreased to 1.3% in 2021, confirming that the CPBL approach can potentially address the retention problems in ICT.