Student success

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Student success refers to a student's ability to complete an educational module or program.

Student success can be defined very tightly as in Brown et al. (2016). [1]: “[..] being: where a student moves beyond the early stages of the study life cycle, i.e. beyond the first few weeks of study, without exiting their programme of study/the institution; or, makes an informed decision not to study having reflected on their readiness for study at higher education level”.

These authors [1] conclude a section on "what do we know about student success" (p. 22) “In summary, it is challenging to define the core concerns that impact success in a flexible learning setting, but there are a number of useful elements and aspects that surface from the literature on retention and progression. These include concerns for the deeply social and personal nature of the learner experience, including the need to address difficulties around personal circumstances, institutional and course matching practices, the affective dimension of the academic experience, readiness for higher education, and the social dimensions of transition. Learners impacted by multiple difficulties are particularly at-risk.”

Improving student success

A first strategy is to help transition, e.g. make sure that a learner will be able to cope with a new type of environment (e.g. moving from high school to university).

The team from the Student success project created a poster with the following objective:

This poster presents a suite of openly available digital readiness/preparation tools, created by the Student Success Toolbox project, which can be used by programme teams/institutions, to address the problem of effective flexible learner transitions into Higher Education (HE), during the study-lifecycle’s initial stages. Flexible learners are defined, here, as adults engaged in part-time or online/distance-learning. Enhancing retention and completion rates of this group is a problem both globally and within the Irish context. Method: This poster presents a summary of how each tool can be utilised, along with links to further online information, along with the tool itself. Result: Eight tools havebeen created, based on an analysis of existing literature and tools used internationally, along with a guide to supporting new flexible learners, which will inform institutions/discipline teams on how to effectively deploy these tools. This poster aids in the dissemination of the tools, and related guide, as well as highlighting other dissemination events. Conclusion: This project provides resources to institutions/discipline teams to help them support flexible learners through key transitions in the early stages of the study-lifecycle.

(Use these Digital Readiness/Preparation Tools to Support your New Flexible Learners!, retrieved March 1, 2017)


Software and environments

"Student success" often refers to a service or policy of an educational institution and as such is implemented at the institutional level by student affairs, student support, or student services. Student success also should be a concern of program managers and individual teachers.

  • Some universities offer online information that may help student's organize their studies and coping with diverse situations
  • Tracking tools allow tutors and advisors to identify students that may need help

In addition to that there exist tools that students can adopt individually, in particular "getting things done" tools, e.g.

  • Bullet journals
  • Any note taking tool that allows easy organisation and updating of contents, e.g. Evernote or even a wiki.
  • simple planning tools, e.g. "todo lists" or agendas/calendars
  • collective forum/messaging/document tools like BaseCamp, Asana

The idea here is to adopt some kind of method, the precise tool used may be of secondary importance. Some tools exist as web service, other as apps that can be installed on a variety of platforms (PCs, mobile phones, browser extensions).

Finally, student success also can be improved through external motivation, e.g. gamification environments that also can be added to environments mentioned above, i.e. the kind of environments that are popular in health/fitness applications for smart phones.


(to do)


  1. 1.0 1.1 Brunton, J., Brown. M., Cleary, A., Costello, E., Delaney, L., Fox, S., Galvin, C., Gilligan, J., O’Regan, L., & Ward, J. (2016). Lost in Transition: A Report on Enabling Success for Flexible Learners. Dublin: Dublin City University