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Evaluation of the Student Transitions Enhancement Theme

We have been clear from the outset of this Theme that we would evaluate the progress of the Theme as it progressed to allow us to update our plans and strategies. This page provides information about the evaluation projects for each year of the Theme.

Evaluation of Year 3 of the Theme and Theme Overall

This was the final of three planned external evaluations of the three year Student Transitions Enhancement Theme.

Dr Ashley Dennis led a team from the Universities of Dundee and St Andrews to carry out the final evaluation between March and June 2017. The aim of this evaluation was to explore transition activities that had been undertaken in Year 3 of the Theme and perceptions of how these activities have impacted/might impact on the student experience of transition. In addition, this evaluation aimed to explore the effectiveness of the Enhancement Theme over its full three-year period, providing an opportunity to critically reflect on its strategic approach and leadership; its reach; and to capture learning from the process to inform planning for the next Theme.

The Year 3/overall Theme evaluation report is available to download from this web site.

QAA Scotland is taking forward the report’s recommendations.

At the end of Year 3 all institutions provided a synopsis of their year 3 activity and work on the Theme overall. Individual institutional reports are available from the institutional web pages.

Evaluation of Year 2 of the Theme

This was the second of three planned external evaluations of the three-year Student Transitions Enhancement Theme.

Dr Ashley Dennis led a team from the University of Dundee to carry out the second year evaluation between February and June 2016. The aim of the evaluation was to produce evidence of what had been achieved during the year, and how well. In addition, the evaluation aimed to inform planning for the work and activities for the Theme in its final year.

In consultation with staff and students across Scottish higher education institutions, evaluation work included:

  • desk-based research analysing how institutions were performing against the Theme Logic Model
  • a report presenting the key findings
  • summaries of the key achievements of the year as well as highlights of development to inform Theme planning
  • a report detailing how institutions may continue relevant collaboration in the final year of the Theme
  • developing evidence-based recommendations to enhance the work of the Theme in its final years.

QAA Scotland set up a sounding board to provide direct feedback to the evaluation team on the project throughout its work. The sounding board included representatives from SHEEC (the Scottish Higher Education Enhancement Committee) and TLG (Theme Leaders Group), students and QAA.

The year 2 evaluation report is now available to download from this website. QAA Scotland will work in the final year of the Student Transitions Enhancement Theme to act on the recommendations put forward by the report.

Evaluation of Year 1 of the Theme

The evaluation of Year 1 of the Theme was the first of three planned external evaluation to take place in the three-year programme of work in the new Student Transitions Enhancement Theme.

A questionnaire was used to gather data from staff in the Scottish HE sector. Staff were asked to note various activities of their choice to show the work taking place to support the current Theme of Student Transitions in their institution. Examples were sought in the following seven areas of student transition:

  • student support
  • technology
  • collaborative working
  • working with students
  • employability
  • international students
  • widening access

Furthermore, examples were sought at institutional, college/school, subject and professional services levels. Following this, a process of reflection was utilised to assign a self-star rating from 1 (not very well) to 5 (very well) to each example along with specific actions which could be taken to improve activities/outcomes outlined in each example. For the purpose of the written report, all responses were anonymised to present a sectoral overview of work in the Student Transitions Theme at this early stage.

The final report presented recommendations to consider by Institutional Teams and Theme Leaders Group (TLG). Members suggested it would be beneficial to use their completed questionnaire as an internal tool for reflection for the duration of the Theme.

This project has now completed. The hashtag #ETyear1Eval was used on Twitter.