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An Experimental Evaluation of a Proactive Pastoral Care Initiative Within An Introductory University Course

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Abstract

Improving student retention and academic performance is a key objective for higher education institutions, and finding effective interventions for assisting with at-risk students is therefore important. In this paper we evaluate a proactive pastoral care intervention that was trialled in an introductory economics course. We first identified students at high risk of failure, and then randomised these students into two treatment groups and a control group. The first treatment group received an email with information about academic support, while the second treatment group received the email as well as a personal telephone call to follow up. In evaluating the impact of the intervention trial, we found that the first intervention did not significantly improve student outcomes, but the second intervention did improve outcomes in one of the two semesters evaluated. However, the statistically insignificant results were positive and statistical insignificance may be due to a lack of statistical power. Overall, the initiative was a qualified success. It is both simple and cost-effective, and should be considered for wider implementation and further evaluation.

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  • Michael P. Cameron & Sialupapu Siameja, 2015. "An Experimental Evaluation of a Proactive Pastoral Care Initiative Within An Introductory University Course," Working Papers in Economics 15/09, University of Waikato.
  • Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:15/09
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    1. Michael P. Cameron & Steven Lim, 2015. "Recognising and building on freshman students' prior knowledge of economics," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(1), pages 22-32, April.
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    Keywords

    academic performance; pastoral care; student retention; randomised-controlled trial; New Zealand;

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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