Student engagement in the educational interface: understanding the mechanisms of student success

Kahu, Ella R. and Nelson, Karen (2018) Student engagement in the educational interface: understanding the mechanisms of student success. Higher Education Research and Development, 37 (1). pp. 58-71. ISSN 0729-4360


Student success and retention continue to be of concern for higher education institutions. Wider participation, combined with lower completion rates for non-traditional students, highlights the need for new ways of understanding the student experience to ground policy and practice. This article provides this insight by drawing together a number of key constructs to refine a recent framework of student engagement. We argue that the transition metaphor, focusing on the first year, is limited because it depicts differences between students and institutions as both transient and temporal. Instead, we use a cultural lens to introduce the educational interface as a metaphor for the individual psychosocial space within which institutional and student factors combine and student engagement in learning occurs. Incorporating the interface into the existing framework of student engagement makes three contributions to our understanding of the student experience. First, the educational interface is a tangible way of representing the complex interactions between students and institutions, and how those interactions influence engagement. Second, the refined framework highlights four specific psychosocial constructs: self-efficacy, emotions, belonging and well-being, which, we contend, are critical mechanisms for mediating the interactions between student and institutional characteristics and student engagement and success. Finally, the refined framework helps to explain why some students with demographic characteristics associated with lower completion rates are retained and do go on to successfully complete their studies, while similar others do not. These three contributions, the interface, the key constructs within it being mediating mechanisms and their explanatory utility, provide focus for the design and implementation of curricula and co-curricular initiatives aimed at enhancing student success and retention, and importantly to evaluate the impact of these interventions.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Files associated with this item cannot be displayed due to copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2022 04:50
Last Modified: 02 Jun 2022 06:02
Uncontrolled Keywords: Student engagement; student success; transition
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3903 Education systems > 390303 Higher education
Identification Number or DOI:

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