Project Details

A 2-year project commencing in 2018, undertaken by the University of Canterbury, to investigate the effect of creating an inclusive cohort environment in engineering undergraduate education on student retention.


The main aims of the project are to:

  • improve student retention rates
  • create an inclusive atmosphere within the student cohort
  • place particular emphasis on creating an inclusive atmosphere for minority groups, such as women, LGBTQ and ethnic minorities.


The project's methodology includes:

  • a focused review of the literature
  • interviews/survey questionnaires with staff and students
  • adaptation of the successful ADVANCE programme, followed by an evaluation of the implementation through focus groups and surveys.



Dr. Philippa Martin

Project Leader

University of Canterbury

Dr Erik Brogt

University of Canterbury


In progress


$27,280.00 (excl GST)

$8,980.00 Regional Hub Project Fund
$18,300.00 The University of Canterbury

Key Findings

The preliminary findings from the project include:

  • Trial orientation sessions including a primer on effective inclusive cohorts has been completed.
  • Impact on practice – the product design team now want to develop an orientation programme for their students. Already it is clear that this will be a regular way to start the academic year.
  • Impact on learners – there has been a much quicker cohort formation and students have been much bolder in approaching staff. It broke down barriers between students and between staff and students.
  • Impact on team – insights were gained into team dynamics as they played out during the orientation. These insights were shared with students during the event.
  • Other highlights or challenges – the project now needs to look at follow up activities/touch points to further upskill students on working in diverse teams and managing team conflicts in an inclusive and professional manner.

Key Recommendations