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Level 1 Progression and Qualification Pathways: A Case Study in History

posted on 2024-06-26, 08:44 authored by Linda Briggs, Suzanne ForbesSuzanne Forbes, Elayne Chaplin

This project will examine student retention on qualification pathways from L1 multidisciplinary modules to L2 modules, using the History qualification (Q01) as a case study. Every year a small but notable proportion of students taking L1 modules deregister from their qualification pathway and switch to a different discipline before reaching L2. Investigators across the OU are increasingly turning attention to this issue, with a view to understanding its causes and then enhancing decision making at different levels to improve student progression and student experiences. Ongoing initiatives include the Qualification Pathways Project led by Begona Nunez-Herran, Jack Fairman and Jennifer Worthington, which aims to develop a data analysis tool to chart student pathways in all Faculties, and the FASSTEST project Tracking retention and building community in distance music study led by Alexander Kolassa and Lilian Simones, which seeks to ascertain whether further fostering a sense of belonging among Music students could positively impact retention rates on the Music qualification pathway from L1 to L2. A recently completed FASSTEST project has directly informed our project: Better Understanding Study Motivation and Module Choice: An investigation into falling new student registrations on the module A223 (Project 68), led by Suzanne Forbes, Elayne Chaplin and Sara Wolfson. Project 68 was a wide-ranging investigation into factors that drive student module choice, with a focus on the transition between L1 and L2 modules. One of its key findings was that qualification pathway was 'very important' or 'important' for the majority of study participants, but interestingly it indicated that a significant minority of students – as many as 20% of A111 and A113 students who participated in the research – considered staying in their current qualification pathway to be 'unimportant' or only 'slightly important'. We propose to lead a targeted study that further examines this insight, in order to expand our understanding of student approaches to qualification pathways. Our project - Level 1 Progression and Qualification Pathways: A Case Study in History – will build on and complement these initiatives. Its objectives are:To understand why students register for the Q01 pathway in the first instance and what their expectations areTo understand students' reasons for considering switching pathways, with a view to better supporting students in making qualification choices and to developing interventions to improve student retention on their original pathwayTo identify strengths and weaknesses of the Q01 pathway in relation to retention, in order to improve the student experience. The findings of this project will be valuable to numerous stakeholders within the OU. As a case study, it will generate both specific recommendations for History and wider recommendations for Module Teams, the Student Support Team, and senior leadership within Arts and Humanities and FASS. Findings will support curriculum planning and design both in History and at L1, inform student support practices in relation to qualification pathways, and encourage reflection on current L2 provision. Furthermore, the project will establish a model for examining student progression on qualification pathways that other teams can use to address and improve retention rates across Arts and Humanities.





  • Internal use only

Institutional priority category

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Students Learning Experiences
  • Other

Subject discipline

  • Arts and Humanities

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