Research students profiles

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Photo of Vicki Trowler

Vicki Trowler

PhD: Engaging 'non-traditional' higher education students for retention.


Website: Personal Website


TL 1.9

Supervisor: Dr Charles Anderson, Dr Ken McCulloch

Outline Biography

Researcher, manager, planner, problem solver and activist, thriving on challenge and change in an ongoing quest to understand and transform the world. 

Research interests

Over the years I have conducted research and developed research interests in:


  • student engagement
  • social justice and transformation
  • leadership and governance in Higher Education
  • Higher Education policy
  • online communities
  • social media and Web 2.x
  • political engagement and communication using OSM
  • the Information Society
  • Knowledge Management
  • using technology to effect change


Research activity

This PhD research is funded by the ESRC and builds on the groundwork of funded research I have conducted for the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education [1]. It brings together research interest and experience in Student Engagement with an abiding interest in widening participation issues, and on-going concerns about student persistence / retention.  We know that student engagement (SE) is positively correlated with persistence/retention [2]. There are also positive correlations with widening participation - both ways: “non-traditional” students (those historically underrepresented in that particular HE context) benefit disproportionately from SE [3]; and students in more diverse universities are more engaged than students in more homogeneous universities [4] (unless the university is completely homogeneous, which also increases engagement (Pike & Kuh 2005)). It thus follows that student engagement has a positive role to play in encouraging persistence among “non-traditional” students. However, these students – whilst having the potential to benefit most from student engagement – are often reported as feeling alienated or unengaged [5], and constitute “at risk” groups in terms of persistence/retention.


[1] See Trowler 2010; Trowler V & Trowler P 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2010d; Trowler P & Trowler V 2010

[2] Astin 1975, 1993; Bean 2005; Berger & Milem 1999; Braxton, Milem & Sullivan 2000; Bridges, Cambridge, Kuh & Leegwater 2005; Milem & Berger 1997; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005; Peltier, Laden & Matranga 1999: Pike et al. 1997; Stage & Hossler 2000; Swail, Redd & Perna 2003; Tinto 1993, 2000, 2005

[3] Carini, Kuh & Klein 2006; Cruce, Wolniak Seifert & Pascarella 2006; Kuh 2009 (b);  Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie & Gonyea 2008; NSSE 2007; Pascarella & Terenzini 2005

[4] Kuh et al 1991; Markwell 2007; Pike and Kuh 2005

[5] Krause 2005, 2006; Forsyth & Furlong 2003; Gallego & Hollingsworth 2000; MacKinnon & Manathunga 2003; Ten Yew & Farrell 2001


Publications/presentations for Vicki Trowler

Professional/teaching experience

Details can be found at:



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