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Understanding student withdrawal in L801 (Phase 2)

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posted on 2024-06-24, 10:28 authored by Annette Duensing, Clare Horackowa, Emilia Wilton-Gobterfforde, Severine Hubscher-Davidson, Anna Comas-Quinn

This project investigates retention on L801 Introduction to Translation Theory and Practice, which is the first module of the Open University MA in Translation, a postgraduate qualification comprising three 60 credit modules. The project was initially devised in 2019 to investigate and respond to high withdrawal rates on the module (64% completion with EMA in 19B), which had an impact on completion rates for the whole qualification. Stage One of the project sourced and analysed data to answer research questions about the profile of students who withdraw from L801, specifically when, how and why they do so (Comas-Quinn, Buck and Horackova, 2020). Key findings, which inform the development of Stage Two, can be summarised as follows:

- A majority of students withdrawing presented one or more factors that have been recognised as potential causes of vulnerability (Office for Students, 2020) including: women, BAME students,[1] students with mental and/or physical health disabilities, caregiving students, retired students, students from low socio-economic backgrounds, students with low PEQs[2]

- Likeliness of withdrawal increased for students who experienced ‘intersections of disadvantage’ (Open University, 2020), i.e. multiple factors of vulnerability

- L801 sees a high number of students using Assessment Banking, and this group is at high risk of not returning/completing

- L801, being a translation module, has a high number of students whose first language is not English, which may be an additional risk factor

- Key risk points for withdrawal during the presentation are early in the module (‘frontloading’) and in the lead up to the EMA

- As well as student-related risk factors, a number of module-related factors were identified. Module-related recommendations were made and implemented as an outcome of Stage One.

This report relates to Stage Two of the project, ‘Understanding Student Withdrawal in L801 (Phase 2)’. Stage Two was designed to build on the findings of Stage One by working with the tutor team to design interventions to support students at risk of withdrawal, as identified in the Stage One report and outlined above. Stage Two was implemented during the 22B presentation of L801. Specifically, the project team set out to design, trial, and evaluate protocols that tutors could follow to provide proactive support interventions throughout the module and especially at the identified risk points (module start, assessment points, pre-EMA). Additional protocols and interventions were designed to address anticipated needs of students identified as experiencing risk factors and particularly those with multiple risk indicators.

[1] We use the term as defined in literature published when we embarked on and completed Stage One of this project; see for example Office for Students, 2020.

[2] Based on definitions in the literature at the time of completion of our Stage One report. See for example Office for Students, 2020





  • Public document

Authorship group

  • Academic - Central

Institutional priority category

  • Achieving Study Goals
  • Students Learning Experiences


  • Assessment
  • Completion of a Qualification
  • Retention

Subject discipline

  • Languages and Applied Linguistics

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