Explore UCD

UCD Home >


Academic Advising ADAPT Humanities Student Support



This Academic Advising project has been funded through the HEA and the National Forum.

PROJECT TITLE: ADAPT Humanities Student Support 
PROJECT COORDINATOR: Associate Professor Conor Mulvagh
COLLABORATORS: Associate Professor Jaime Jones, Associate Professor Gillian Pye, Associate Professor Conor Mulvagh, Dr Annette Skade, Dr Jennifer Wellington
TARGET AUDIENCE: Stage 1 and Stage 2 DN530 students


The need for the project arose from the significant increase in students on DN530 struggling with one or more modules as a result of the change to remote learning during COVID-19. The stage 1 students returning to in-person learning in September 2021 had faced significant disruption to their education throughout the senior post primary cycle and incoming stage 2 students had completed a year of university without attending any in person learning activities on campus.

Results at the end of 2021-2023 showed significantly lower achievement outcomes on stage cohorts (especially the stage 1 entrants from the academic year 2020-21) in comparison to those who entered DN530 in 2018-19 and 2019-20. 26 students DN530 out of 238 2020 registrations (11%) failed 1 or 2 modules. This programme proposed a retention and support initiative which would aim to identify and support students struggling or not attending in order to make positive academic interventions and to foster engagement between these students and the range of supports available across the college and the university.


The project objective was to establish a proactive student contact mechanism to make targeted early interventions with students showing signs of academic underperformance or lack of attendance in order to provide early assistance and get these students connected to necessary supports and get them back on track with their modules and learning.

The Innovative Approach

The Academic Advising Grant proposal advocated a coordinated approach, in which all stakeholders would participate, with a view to working with students to overcome or ameliorate the significant challenges posed by disruption during the pandemic and its aftermath. This approach involved faculty, staff within the College of Arts and Humanities and beyond, and the students themselves, both as individuals and as a group. The overall approach stated in the application was to facilitate the following:

  • student identity within DN530
  • movement from student dependency to agency, as students transition from school to university.
  • student retention and best possible student outcomes in-programme
  • increased faculty and staff collaboration across DN530 through a dedicated academic support coordination service at programme level

The ADAPT Humanities team and the ADAPT Humanities lead liaised with student groups, individual students and student representatives from the target cohort to ascertain their concerns and what their vision for the project would be. Performance was monitored across all DN530 students at Stages 1 and 2 to identify students who are showing early signs of difficulty.

Students were proactively contacted by the ADAPT Humanities project lead to

  • ascertain their circumstances
  • assess their needs (academic, pastoral, learning support, other)
  • connect these students with the necessary supports

Following the programme completion in summer 2022, the ADAPT Humanities project lead will compile a report on the efficacy of the programme including aggregated statistics on the numbers of students who engaged with the programme and the outcomes for these students in terms of academic attainment and retention.


There were a total of 94 referrals (17.9%) out of a possible 525. 55 (21.07%) of the total number (289) of stage 1 students, 39 (23.21%) of the total number (219) of stage 2 students. A total of 32 students engaged individually with ADAPT (34.0% of those referred), and there were a total of 28 meetings between individual students and the ADAPT lead, with a few students having multiple meetings. Some students discussed their concerns via email. In addition, 16 students from three pathways participated in study groups.

Around 12 students worked with the ADAPT lead on time management and study plans and were referred to the Writing Centre for help with the essay writing process. Many students discussed stress, lack of motivation and mental health issues. Students were referred to pastoral and academic supports, ranging from the Access and Lifelong Learning team to the Writing Centre:

  • Regarding the number of referrals to Pathway Coordinators, Module Coordinators or tutors, the data shows the number where the lead suggested that a student contact these members of staff for specific information. The lead routinely suggested to individual students that tutors be informed about their academic concerns, and it was also the case that several students had discussed their circumstances with tutors and pathway coordinators prior to referral to ADAPT Humanities.
  • The data shows circumstances where the lead suggested that students initiate contact with services for the first time. Several students who engaged with ADAPT Humanities were already receiving counselling, or were working with the Access and Lifelong learning team etc.
  • Students were recommended to ask for an appointment with UCD counselling service in Trimester 2. The service was not taking appointments in Trimester 1. 

Statistics suggest that working with the initiative resulted in positive outcomes for just under 40% of students who engaged with a further 43.75% subsequently engaging fully with other supports.

In a survey sent to all students referred to ADAPT Humanities, (there were seven responses) five students said that engaging with ADAPT made them likely to stay on the course, while another student said that the project had helped make the course “bearable” and had helped with them manage their workload. In order to build a community where students could help each other a Study Group initiative was piloted in Trimester 2 with a view to extending the initiative to the 2022-2023 academic year.


The ADAPT Humanities project developed a series of programme specific resources and guidance documents to aid pathway coordinators and support staff to assist students with their programme engagement into the future. These were as follows:

  • Resource Pack for Students
    • Study Groups: Study group PowerPoint
    • Study Plan 
      • Sample Assessment Timetable
      • Blank Assessment Timetable with instructions for students on quick retrieval of information to populate the timetable. Also contains links to important supports and resources in the context of essay writing ie Writing Centre/ Library Academic Integrity
  • ADAPT Humanities Report for BA Humanities team
  • Handover Information
    • Checking in email for referred students' template
    • Study timetable for managing workload email template
    • Managing workload for late submission email template
    • Resource reminder email template
    • Table of academic and pastoral student supports including links