Table of Contents


Call for Peer Reviewers, Call for Papers, Vision & Mission (Free)

Publisher, Executive Committee & Editorial Board (Free)

Messages: Senator, the Honourable Fazal Karim, Minister of MTEST

                    Michael Dowlath, PhD, Chairman of the Board, ACTT (Free)

                    Michael Bradshaw, Executive Director, ACTT (Free)

Editorial: Accreditation in Search of its Future - Lynn E. Priddy, PhD (Free)


Supporting student success: Ruby S. Alleyne, PhD (With Subscription)

A data-driven approach to improving student retention


Government initiatives to widen access to tertiary education and make it more affordable resulted in a reported increase in the participation rate in Trinidad and Tobago from 7% in 2001 to 40% in 2008. Open admission policies and more flexible learning options, coupled with funding of up to 100% of tuition fees under the Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) programme, have largely accounted for the higher participation rate.

According to Government sources, expenditure on the GATE initiative increased exponentially from $102 million in the 2004/2005 fiscal year to $625 million in fiscal 2010/2011. The cumulative cost to taxpayers of subsidising this initiative over the seven-year period is estimated to be in the vicinity of $3 billion and concern has been expressed over issues such as the quality of education and the loss to the country when students do not complete their programmes.

As the participation rate increases, student populations become more diverse with a larger number of non-traditional learners among whom retention rates tend to be lower. The literature reveals that there are institutional and personal factors which are related to student withdrawal. In light of increasing diversity and the rising economic cost, universities should place more emphasis on analysing reasons for student departure.

This study presents a case study of student retention data for one university. A survey of students who did not return to continue their programmes seeks to analyse their reasons for leaving, and to examine the conditions under which they may be encouraged to re-enrol. Major retention theories and best practices in the literature and research are examined to determine key factors in developing effective retention programmes. A model is proposed that attempts to align reasons for student departure with institutional actions that may increase persistence if effectively implemented. The study also identifies opportunities for enhancing the institutional environment and proposes specific interventions geared towards increasing student support and improving student persistence.


Institutional research as organisational intelligence: Jerome De Lisle, PhD (With Subscription)

Using evidence to inform continuous quality improvement


This paper documents efforts to use institutional research for continuous quality improvement at the School of Medicine of The University of the West Indies, St Augustine, during the period 2000 to 2005. Institutional research is defined as organisational intelligence operating at three tiers: technical and analytical, issues and contextual. Institutional research as organisational intelligence can facilitate adaptation to environmental demands through the mechanism of evidence-based policy making. Evidence-based policymaking is the essence of organisational learning leading to continuous quality improvement and sustainable change. These linkages are illustrated in a case study of the School of Medicine preparing for accreditation by a new agency during that period. Technical and analytical intelligence was first involved in the setup of a computerised tracking system for current and graduating students. In turn, this database facilitated in-depth reporting and analysis on several issues, such as student retention. This is the second tier of organisational intelligence. In the third tier, findings from one focussed study were used to guide the development of several context specific interventions meant to address retention issues. These were (1) an extended orientation programme for all first-year students, (2) an Academic Progress Committee, and (3) further institutional research into patterns of gendered achievement. This case study provides valuable lessons for other local higher education institutions facing turbulent external environments.


Extending the Role of Quality Assurance in a Changing: Sandra Richards, PhD, MA Ed (With Subscription)

Education Landscape in the Caribbean


The nature of tertiary education is changing (Santiago, 2008b), impacted in part by growing student choice, information technology, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and the persistence of an unstable financial climate. These are just a few of the change factors currently taking place in higher education, yet the importance of education remains paramount.

In addition to the aforementioned features, globalisation has added a new dimension to competition within the higher education sector (Marginson, 2007) and education providers worldwide are now focusing on strategies to pre-empt and respond to the impact of globalisation. One such focus is how to effectively combat the unmonitored transborder phenomenon of pervasive marketing to students from spurious offshore tertiary level institutions (TLIs), the courses and programmes of which are frequently found to fall short of minimum standards that safeguard quality.

This paper will reference international literature as it discusses the role of quality assurance within an ever changing education climate. It will draw on the quality assurance approach employed at The University of the West Indies to locate the discussion in a Caribbean context. It will also explore a number of issues that can impact higher education providers as they strive to deliver academic excellence and administrative efficiency by doing more with less.


Evidence Based Quality Assurance : A New Paradigm for Higher Education by Dr David Rees: A book review by Sandra Ingrid Gift, PhD (With Subscription)


In Evidence Based Quality Assurance, Dr David Rees reports on the findings of his research study on blended graduate programme quality. The purpose of this study was to generate quality indicators appropriate for assessing the quality of blended learning. The scope of the study was limited to graduate programmes at Royal Roads University, Victoria, B.C. that were delivered using a blended programme delivery model. The presentation of the study’s methodology and findings is preceded by an introduction that provides a useful discussion of some of the current issues in the delivery of higher education today.

The research design incorporated elements of participatory action research, case study, and phenomenological enquiry. Among the key findings of the study was the understanding that quality indicators in higher education are specific to their particular contexts and must be relevant to the goals and objectives of an institution’s academic programmes. The findings also revealed the differences in perceptions of stakeholders regarding what constitute the most important overall indicators of quality of blended graduate programmes.


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