Student RetentionExperiences of the ATTRACT project    Stockholm October 4, 2012
Student retention in the ATTRACT project (1) Compilation of state-of-the-art knowledge, statistics and practices     in st...
Contents• What? Why? When? Where? Who? – The Five W’s  in Student Retention• Results of the work done   –   What works in ...
The five W’s               in student retention•   What? (phenomenon)•   Why? (factors contributing to staying or leaving)...
What?                          (phenomenon)Complex phenomenon, a great variety of concepts and measurementpractices• Reten...
Why?(factors contributing to staying or leaving)                 ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                            ...
Most common factors contributing to             dropout• At early stages:    – Prior knowledge of the institution and prog...
When?(times of dropout)1. Point of entry: during and after the first year2. Some later time – often near graduationThe fir...
beginning of studiesUniversity students’   careers in 12European countries(Kivinen and Nurmi 2011)                  ATTRAC...
Where?          (different fields of education)• Many of variables work both in general and in engineering  education, alt...
Who?(different levels and actors)         ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                      11
Results of the actions taken byWP8           ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                        12
ATTRACT activities against the   theoretical framework          ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                       13
What works in student retention?• USA Instrument (ACT Company)• Primary purpose of the tool: assess perceptions and specif...
Retention Footprint:Visualizing and monitoring student retentionin study programs across Europe                ATTRACT Fin...
Define indicators, show patterns• Universities seldom produce data for retention,  graduation rate etc. in the same way• A...
Indicators for retention in the ATTRACT                   projectIndicator                                   Usability• Nu...
Retention Footprint: Civil Engineering                              ects credits year 1                                   ...
Retention Footprint: Mechanical                  Engineering                              ects credits year 1             ...
Footprint: Conclusions• It is difficult to find directly comparable indicators due  to differences in educational systems ...
Working with questionnaires:Feedback loop       Transparent: if stakeholders are aware of                    how their ans...
Good practices in tutoring, mentoring andacademic integration                ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                ...
Case studies • Universities’ activities to increase students retention   can be divided into three major strands:    – Cha...
Examples of good practices 1• Study psychologist services – Aalto   – Study psychologists were first introduced in 2006   ...
Examples of good practices 2• Low Academic Outcome System (LAOS) – IST  – IST follows the Portuguese law related to the ex...
Case studies:Conclusions • There seems to be plenty of similar activities (in terms of e.g.   tutoring) across universitie...
Economics            ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                         27
Economic actors in university education                                         Society                                   ...
Receiver Operating Characteric                  1                 0.9                 0.8                 0.7Detection Rat...
Receiver Operating Characteric                                   1                                  0.9                   ...
ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012             31
Summary          ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012                       32
Conclusions                                 Getting to know ones                                 context                  ...
In practice …    improved first year experience by integrating students into university environment (through interaction w...
Actions taken by partners• First year experience, integration• Interdisciplinary courses, programs• Study skills courses• ...
ATTRACT Retention reports will be            available athttp://attractproject.orgATTRACT final report+ ATTRACT WP8 Sub-re...
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Student Retention

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This project group aims to increase completion rates without lowering standards. A significant proportion of science and engineering students fail to successfully graduate. When a student is unable to graduate not only is valuable time and money wasted, but it damages their self-esteem and employability. In addition these results in the wasting of valuable university resources causing output-based systems to lose significant funding. This also affects professors who expend disproportional time and effort on 'failing' students. Finally, low retention potentially hurts recruitment.

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  • International comparison vs. institutional contexts
  • The five W’s in student retention as a phenomenon are What? – the phenomenon itself, Why? – the factors contributing to staying or leaving, When? – when the dropout tends to happen, Where? – does engineering differ from other fields of education somehow, and finally Who? – who are the actors influencing the phenomenon.
  • Depending on the terminologyused, the phenomenon of retentionmayhavequite a differentconnotation: while in the USA researchersoftenuse the word “persistence” to indicatestudentswhopersist in pursuingtheirdegree and notdropping out, in Europe manyresearchersprefer to use the term “retention” whichimpliesthatit is the universitiesthatneed to retaintheirstudents. Thisalsoshowsthat the phenomenoncanbeviewedfromverydifferentperspectives. Also in the ATTRACT projectwehaveused the word “retention” to describe the overallphenomenon.Besides retention, completion and dropout, institutions of higher education should also pay attention to (1)entry of students to the system (including admission and access), (2)progression and completion within the nominal study time (including e.g. curriculum development and support) and (3)demand in labor market before and after graduation.
  • Over the years a number of theories (psychological, environmental,…) have been developed to explain the dropout phenomenon.Student retention isa complex set of interactions among personal, institutional and external factors where students are mainly influenced by the interaction with other students and staff.Leaving is seldom the result of a single overwhelming concern, but a upshot of a push and pull process over time.Students are also individuals who react differently to the same situations; the so-called survivors have usually developed particular attitudes or coping strategies. Also serendipity plays a part in persistence. There is no departure-prone personality.
  • Reasons behind dropout also vary at different times. Factors that frequently appear as significant predictors of student retention may not appear significant to graduation [as shown in the previous slide].
  • [As aforementioned] the issue of retention may be approached from a wide variety of perspectives. Also the experiences and challenges related to student retention may vary depending on the perspective or actor in question; (inter)national policy makers, higher education institutions, teachers, tutors, instructors and learners all have different views of the phenomenon.Generally, we can divide different actors into three major strands, which represent the different approaches of perspectives. Macro level represents ideology, social context and policy-making, meso level institutional conditions, and micro level classroom and peer interactions. The levels of motivation, activities and goals may also vary.
  • The case studies were clustered under seven different themes:- Learning soft skills- Mathematics support- E-learning- Student monitoring practices- Counseling and guidance- Future career opportunities- Activities in the curricula
  • Expectations: clearly communicatedFeedback: foresights, early warning systemsSupport – academic and wellbeing: teaching is a support system for learningInvolvement: foster collaborationFostering quality culture by quality structure: common language shared, active leadership
  • Student Retention

    1. 1. Student RetentionExperiences of the ATTRACT project Stockholm October 4, 2012
    2. 2. Student retention in the ATTRACT project (1) Compilation of state-of-the-art knowledge, statistics and practices in student retention based on literature review and country+university reports. Outputs: – Country reports – Literature review – What works in student retention? Exploratory study – Comparative framework – Glossary (2) Implementation of field trials with the aim of - Evaluating a method of monitoring student progression - Developing and working with students’ questionnaires - Finding good practices in student-teacher interaction, academic integration and tutoring, and early identification of students at risk (3) Analysis of findings and exchange of ideas and experiences, formulation of recommendations 11.4.2012 2
    3. 3. Contents• What? Why? When? Where? Who? – The Five W’s in Student Retention• Results of the work done – What works in student retention? – Footprint – Working with questionnaires – Case studies: Good practices in tutoring, mentoring and academic integration• Economic aspects of retention• Conclusions ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 3
    4. 4. The five W’s in student retention• What? (phenomenon)• Why? (factors contributing to staying or leaving)• When? (times of dropout)• Where? (different fields of education)• Who? (different levels and actors) ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 4
    5. 5. What? (phenomenon)Complex phenomenon, a great variety of concepts and measurementpractices• Retention = ability of institutions to retain their students• Persistence = desire and action of students to remain and complete their degree• Dropout = the act of leaving university prematurely – temporary or permanent – may occur at different levels (e.g. university, program, course).• Opt-out• Retention rate, survival rate, graduation rate, etc.The process of retention is not the mirror image of the process of leaving;knowing why our students leave is not equivalent to knowing why they stay ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 5
    6. 6. Why?(factors contributing to staying or leaving) ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 6
    7. 7. Most common factors contributing to dropout• At early stages: – Prior knowledge of the institution and program; (mis)match between students’ expectations and their experiences – How stimulating the students feel their teaching to be – Poor academic performance – Lack of social contacts• At later stages: – Students’ entrance into working life• Predictors of good performance and progression: – Good performance during the first year often correlates with good performance at later stages – Belief in one’s own capabilities – Performance motivation ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 7
    8. 8. When?(times of dropout)1. Point of entry: during and after the first year2. Some later time – often near graduationThe first-year experience is critical because it is the timewhen – students are most vulnerable in terms of academic failure and likely to experience social, emotional and financial problems – important implications for students’ long-term engagement and persistence are created – most students develop their appropriate identity, become socially integrated in the institution and attain their learning and generic skills and qualities ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 8
    9. 9. beginning of studiesUniversity students’ careers in 12European countries(Kivinen and Nurmi 2011) ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 9
    10. 10. Where? (different fields of education)• Many of variables work both in general and in engineering education, although conditions may vary• Dropout rates among engineering students are often higher• Engineering education is considered uniquely different especially during the first year – a major in engineering tends to prepare a student for a specific career, whereas majors in liberal arts or sciences are less focused on a career – focus of the freshman engineering curriculum is often on developing strong analytical skills and problem-solving using technology which appears in demanding freshman math and science courses – secondary education provides more “prep-courses” for majors in liberal arts and sciences than in e.g. engineering ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 10
    11. 11. Who?(different levels and actors) ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 11
    12. 12. Results of the actions taken byWP8 ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 12
    13. 13. ATTRACT activities against the theoretical framework ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 13
    14. 14. What works in student retention?• USA Instrument (ACT Company)• Primary purpose of the tool: assess perceptions and specific causes of attrition and factors that may affect retention• Majority of selected factors were intrinsic factors that the universities could not directly control; among 10 identified factors only 4 could be regimented by the universities: – Availability of academic advisors – Quality of interaction between staff and students – Level of job demands on students – Quality of interaction between faculty and students• Assessment not a common practice ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 14
    15. 15. Retention Footprint:Visualizing and monitoring student retentionin study programs across Europe ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 15
    16. 16. Define indicators, show patterns• Universities seldom produce data for retention, graduation rate etc. in the same way• Agreeing upon strict definitions takes time and may block the progress, however concepts need to be defined and made visible• Focusing on figures may fade the patterns – “A picture can say more than a thousand words (numbers)” ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 16
    17. 17. Indicators for retention in the ATTRACT projectIndicator Usability• Number of active students, • Definitions differ but footprints student cohort can be compared• Credits after year one, year • Can be produced at all three and nominal program universities except in one length, median in the cohort• Graduation from the initial • Can be produced but program; graduation rate, comparability depends on the mean value in the cohort definition of the cohort• Graduation from any program • Measured in Sweden, at the university; graduation estimated for rest of the rate, mean value in the cohort countries ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 17
    18. 18. Retention Footprint: Civil Engineering ects credits year 1 median 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50graduation rate any 0.40 ects credits year 3 standard loader 0.30 program year 5+1 (bach level) median 0.20 Univ 3 0.10 0.00 Univ 2 Univ 4 Univ 1 graduation rate year ects credits year 5 5 +1 (master level) median ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 18
    19. 19. Retention Footprint: Mechanical Engineering ects credits year 1 median 1.00 0.90 0.80 0.70 0.60 0.50graduation rate any 0.40 ects credits year 3 standard loader 0.30 program year 5+1 (bach level) median 0.20 Univ 3 0.10 0.00 Univ 2 Univ 4 Univ 1 graduation rate year ects credits year 5 5 +1 (master level) median ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 19
    20. 20. Footprint: Conclusions• It is difficult to find directly comparable indicators due to differences in educational systems etc.• Data not directly available, however improved systems in the future will help• Comparing patterns and trends as graphical visualization, instead of figures, fosters discussion• Studying similarities and differences in the pattern• Drawing actual conclusions, deeper analysis at university level is crucial ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 20
    21. 21. Working with questionnaires:Feedback loop Transparent: if stakeholders are aware of how their answers are used, they are likely to provide the institution with the information they need 1) Feedback 2) Feedforward = developing practice by identifying critical changes in student populations BEFORE the situation reaches a critical point ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 21
    22. 22. Good practices in tutoring, mentoring andacademic integration ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 22
    23. 23. Case studies • Universities’ activities to increase students retention can be divided into three major strands: – Changes in the structure of studies – Changes in progression rules – Changes in human support – both academic and well- being • The case studies are a collection of actual practices implemented in the partner institutions in order to decrease non-completion rates among higher education students. – Focus on 1st and 2nd year activities – Examples others can learn from ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 23
    24. 24. Examples of good practices 1• Study psychologist services – Aalto – Study psychologists were first introduced in 2006 – Services for the students include individual counseling, workshops for groups, lessons and material on learning skills (preventive healthcare) – Typical reasons for the students to seek counseling are improvement in study skills (e.g. reading, writing, note taking), time management skills, motivation, goal setting and coping with stress – The main purpose is not mental health care, however the line between can sometimes be thin ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 24
    25. 25. Examples of good practices 2• Low Academic Outcome System (LAOS) – IST – IST follows the Portuguese law related to the exclusion of students with low academic outcomes; if a student has not completed enough credits after a specific number of enrollments, (s)he may be excluded from the university for one academic year – LAOS allows the identification of students with persistently low academic outcomes who may be at risk of being excluded from the university and is complemented by an intervention plan aiming to reverse these outcomes ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 25
    26. 26. Case studies:Conclusions • There seems to be plenty of similar activities (in terms of e.g. tutoring) across universities but dissimilar execution • Measuring (as much as possible) the impact of these activities has proved to be a significant challeng. • The generalizability of different activities is limited due to the context dependency. Universities need to understand their own contexts. • One case study – Scholarly attitude to the retention practice – represents the desired approach to these initiatives emphasizing the importance of systematic evaluation ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 26
    27. 27. Economics ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 27
    28. 28. Economic actors in university education Society University Intermediary Admin- Faculty Government istration Department Family Student ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 28
    29. 29. Receiver Operating Characteric 1 0.9 0.8 0.7Detection Rate 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 False Alarm Rate ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 29
    30. 30. Receiver Operating Characteric 1 0.9 0.8More detection 0.7 Detection Rate 0.6 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.2 0.1 0 0 0.1 0.2 0.3 0.4 0.5 0.6 0.7 0.8 0.9 1 False Alarm Rate Larger Sample More False Alarms ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 30
    31. 31. ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 31
    32. 32. Summary ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 32
    33. 33. Conclusions Getting to know ones context Benchmarking and learning from others’ actions ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 33
    34. 34. In practice … improved first year experience by integrating students into university environment (through interaction with all university actors, inclusive teaching, support and feedback) + monitoring of student results at key points in their academic life + early identification of individual and institutional challenges (through feedback and feedforward system which helps to identify critical changes in student population) + human support (especially for those experiencing difficulties) +improved structure of studies and progression rules to support meaningful learning paths = most promising path to follow from here onwards ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 34
    35. 35. Actions taken by partners• First year experience, integration• Interdisciplinary courses, programs• Study skills courses• Research• Service• Indicators, tools for analysis (footprint), improved data handling• Curriculum structure reform• Collaboration projects• … ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 35
    36. 36. ATTRACT Retention reports will be available athttp://attractproject.orgATTRACT final report+ ATTRACT WP8 Sub-reports: – Selected country reports – Student Retention Literature review – Student Retention Comparative framework – What works in student retention? – Footprint report – Glossary – Knowing our students – workshop report – Case studies on interaction, academic integration and tutoring ATTRACT Final Event 4.10.2012 36

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