The Battle for Latin in UK Universities: A Statistical analysis of factors driving student success and failure in beginners’ Latin modules

Lloyd, Mair E. and Robson, James (2023). The Battle for Latin in UK Universities: A Statistical analysis of factors driving student success and failure in beginners’ Latin modules. Language Learning Journal (Early Access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2023.2176534

Abstract

In the UK, Latin is often seen as an elitist subject taught largely at fee-paying schools. Over the past generation, however, great strides have been made in opening up the subject to students from all backgrounds. A major hindrance to widening access to Latin at university level is that the language can often prove challenging for students. Data collected for this article reveal that only 77% of Latin students on beginners’ modules in UK universities achieved a pass. Or in other words, nearly a quarter of students embarking on the study of Latin either fail or withdraw from their module.

This article seeks to investigate the problems of retention and progression in support of the battle to make the study of Latin sustainable and accessible in higher education. By analysing survey responses from 29 UK universities offering beginners’ Latin modules, it explores the impact of factors such as module weighting and duration, contact hours, class sizes, textbooks and assessment methods. In so doing, it breaks new ground in its rigorous statistical analysis of a significant set of quantitative data in an effort to improve our understanding of successful ancient language teaching, tackle real-world issues of retention, and promote student success.

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