Having meaningful processes to track confidence can help you to assess how your learners are progressing.

One of the clear measures that can identify if you have enough support in place for your learners is your retention rate.

Dropout is one of the most persistent problems facing the apprenticeship and further education sector, and higher education is not immune either.

“Non-completers often challenged the level of support they received and how responsive tutors were.” (Department for Education, 2019)

Tutors always want to do the right thing for learners. But their ability to identify and respond to learners’ individual needs requires initiatives that prioritise inclusion and improve learner’s confidence and motivation in their ability to learn.


Insights research into reducing dropout

We ran a preliminary study with Realise aimed at identifying learners at greater risk of dropping out based on cognitive assessment results and other individual factors.

Looking at historical data provided by Realise, Cognassist used regression-based statistical analysis on a sample of 223 learners.

We were able to predict which learners were at a higher risk of dropping out with good accuracy.

The key findings showed that learning difficulties, identified in a digital cognitive assessment, were significant risk factors for learners dropping out. The research also found that this risk may be increased by other factors relating to the circumstances of the learner and their area of study.

With more research, we can refine this data science algorithm to help proactively identify and support learners to prevent apprenticeship dropout. Allowing providers to create comprehensive and early support interventions to help at-risk learners.

The applications of this research could prove ground-breaking, and we are already working with more organisations to expand this research.

Removing barriers to learning isn’t a one-off task, though.

Learner support needs to be consistent. And staff need to also feel confident in their ability to deliver support and discuss issues with their learners throughout their journey.


The Quality Assurance Framework

Developed in partnership with Mesma, The Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) has been designed to give organisations the opportunity to streamline their support processes for learners with learning difficulties and disabilities (LDD). It is free to access on the Mesma Platform.

Not surprisingly, it offers a framework to ensure quality for all learners who come to your organisation.

It outlines the five pillars to quality within your LDD support on a practitioner level:

#1 identify

This stage focuses on how accessible your organisation is for LDD learners and what step you take at initial assessment to identify learner’s needs and whether they require reasonable adjustments.

#2 Plan

The planning stage looks at how well you use outcomes from initial assessment and a learning needs assessment to ensure a comprehensive and individualised Learning Support Plan. Involving key stakeholders where necessary and embedding reasonable adjustments.

#3 Support

Then you move onto how you support learners’ day to day. Looking at how well you deliver reasonable adjustments alongside an ambitious curriculum to ensure LDD learners aim towards and reach their full potential.

#4 Review

Here, the focus is on managing and removing barriers to learning, regularly reviewing and amending individual Learning Support Plans when necessary. Are learner reviews timely and do you take a learner-centred approach?

#5 Preparation and progression

This penultimate stage is about ensuring your learners are well equipped for end-point assessment and feel prepared to take the next steps in their career and development goals. Have you worked with awarding organisations to carry over reasonable adjustments at assessment? And do your learners have enough information, advice and guidance (IAG) to make well-informed decisions and seek greater learning independence?


Each of these stages allows you to make notes on what you do well and areas for improvements, as well as enable you to grade your own processes.

It also invites providers to look at the overall support journey and how your organisation defines, reviews, monitors and manages internal processes to ensure effective leadership and resources are considered in your learning support strategy.


Confidence as a key performance indicator (KPI)

All organisations have key performance indicators, usually around outcome data related to retention and achievement.

But when confidence tracks closely to academic achievement, it should be considered as a key metric of learner success. Especially when educators consider their requirement to show distance travelled.

Distance travelled is about an individual’s progress relative to their own starting point.

Providers need to be sensitive to the institutional and personal barriers that can affect someone’s learning journey. Taking steps to proactively identify and break down these barriers in your organisation will show a critical awareness of your learner’s needs and how to set achievable learning goals.

“The acquisition of certain soft outcomes may seem insignificant, but for certain individuals the leap forward in achieving these outcomes is immense. […]

“Increased confidence, motivation and self-esteem are extremely common indicators that are used in the context of ESF [European Social Fund] projects. Many beneficiaries face multiple barriers to labour market participation and suffer high levels of disadvantage, which converge to increase the likelihood of low confidence and self-esteem. Projects need to work towards measuring these outcomes to show the real and full impact of their efforts.” (IES, 2001)

Labour market research centres like IES (Institute for Employment Studies) acknowledge the need to implement systems for recording soft outcomes and distance travelled. Therefore, educators, as those who prepare us for the working world, should take these kind of outcomes seriously.

This kind of reporting will help providers to work with learners on their performance and progress to show changes and improvements over time and help to boost confidence. But it will also allow organisations to see the impact their support has on learners and build their own confidence in the objectivity and accuracy of internal performance reporting.


The need for good data practices

A data-driven approach is the foundation of quality within your organisation.

The insights that understanding your learners can bring are massive, but the methods you use need to be robust and based on what works best.

Otherwise, we’re just guessing that what we’re doing is right.

Data helps us to understand the world around us. It gives us a realistic picture of what’s actually going on and helps us to implement effective change.

Whether it’s retention or achievement rates, learners with learning difficulties and disabilities are at a disadvantage to their peers. They are more likely to drop out and they are less likely to achieve.

“Past the age of 16, young people with learning difficulties or disabilities comprise one of the groups most likely not to be in education, employment or training.” (The special educational needs and disability review – Ofsted, 2010)

This is a tragedy. And an avoidable one.

The sector knows it has a responsibility to learners, there is a great amount of passion to offer learners the best opportunities. We are confident in your commitment to constantly improve for the benefit of your learners… All of your learners.

As someone who’s worked in education for 35 years, Paul Eeles spoke to us about how the sector is changing:

“This is about people. It’s about equality and diversity. What are we doing for individuals, whoever they are and whatever characteristics they’ve got? […] We have to recognise it will take time, but we can change. We know where we’re going, and we know the dialogue that needs to happen now in this sector.”

What changes will you make in your organisation to ensure every learner has the confidence and motivation to achieve?

Ready to increase the confidence and motivation of your learners?

Talk to us about digital cognitive assessments