It is to be expected that adaptation problems in the transition phase lead to a reduced exploitation of students’ individual potential and may result in heightened student drop out. Yet, there is only limited and incomplete data (e.g. focusing only on single institutions; focusing on student success in general / over the whole student lifecycle). Students’ sense of belonging during the transition phase is hardly ever made a subject of inquiry.
Thus, the project aims to carry out an initial student’s needs assessment on the European level. The survey assesses the current social, cultural and academic level of integration into the institution of beginner students at the end of their first semester, gauging the most pressing problems. The survey also deals with items relating to student’s self-efficacy, assessment of their own abilities, coping strategies and their self-management capabilities. Finally, students’ perceptions of university support offerings are included as well. These different categories seem most relevant to get insight into the degree / process of adaptation and subsequently student’s sense of belonging.
The needs analysis will be sent out to 46 national unions of students from 40 countries. They will pass on the survey to their members / students at higher education institutions in their respective countries.
The findings of this survey will feed directly into the development of intellectual outputs which will be adapted accordingly. In addition, the findings will be compared to findings from a survey amongst participants who participated in the project outputs to measure the impact of the developed outputs. Thus, the survey will not only provide information about first semester students’ needs and their current situation in the transition phase but will also help to measure the impact of developed intellectual outputs at the end of the project.
Despite differences in the data basis, these results allow for a general idea if the project outputs are working and if the percentage of first-semester students who are thinking about droping out / who are low in self-efficacy and not sure if they will be able to succeed in the long-run declines.
The findings can be used to refine higher education institutions diversity strategies, to adapt support structures and improve teaching and learning environments and make them more inclusive.
The questionnaire can be handed out to any interested party. It can be used (and adapted) at higher education institutions all over Europe to assess student needs at the own institution in order to improve student’s social integration and finally their sense of belonging.