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Title: Affecting Student Persistence via Institutional Levers: Author: ETS Administrator Last modified by: Dan Rogalski Created Date: 10/11/2006 12:03:01 PM – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Institutions

Institutions efforts to support persistence
Developing the big picture
  • International Assessment and Retention Conference

The BIG Questions
  • The limits of current theories and research on
    student persistence provide the backdrop.
  • What policies, practices, and organizational
    structures do institutions enact to try to
    enhance student persistence?
  • How do the ways in which students interact with
    and experience institutional practices influence
    their success and graduation?

A Metaphor for Our Efforts
  • I have 1.3 million to spend on retention
    programs and I only want to spend these dollars
    on programs that work.

  • We are interested in understanding how campuses
    can intervene to positively influence
  • Because the way that campuses deliver
    programmatic initiatives is so variable, we are
    also interested in how campuses organize
    themselves to address issues of student

Literature on Institutional Role in Student
  • Many have pointed to the importance of this
    question (Braxton, 1999 Hossler, 2005 Perna
    Thomas, 2006 Tinto Pusser, 2006)
  • Policy levers
  • Work identifying pivotal practices
  • (Braxton, Hirschy, McClendon, 2004 Pascarella
    Terenzini, 1991 Stage Hossler,
  • Directions identified through theory and research
  • (Braxton McClendon, 2001-2002 Peterson,
  • Empirical record remains uneven
  • (Patton, Morelon, Whitehead, Hossler, 2006)

The College Board Pilot Study on Student
  • Two Foci for Development of New Surveys
  • Institutional Survey to enhance institutions
    understanding of the link between their own
    practices and student retention
  • Student Survey to explore how student
    experiences and attitudes about campus practices
    relate to persistence
  • Pilot Cycle Two Rounds
  • Broadened Goals for Institutional Survey
  • National-scope description and benchmarking of
    retention practices and policies at colleges and
  • Development of a survey for two-year colleges and
  • Focus groups to test and re-center constructs

Institutional Survey
  • College Board Pilot Study on Student Retention

Survey ofInstitutional Retention Practices
  • 2006 Survey of 4-year institutions in
    California, Georgia, Indiana, New York, Texas
  • Web-based administration
  • 275 institutions surveyed
  • Response rate of 32.8
  • Findings focus on
  • Retention Coordinator Institutional Retention
  • Actionable Institutional Policies/Practices
  • Orientation
  • Academic Advising
  • First-Year Experience

Institutional Characteristics
  • Mean scores on select variables
  • Fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time,
    first-year students 78.1 (min 51 - max 99)
  • 72.3 of first-year students living in campus
    residence halls
  • Median financial figures
  • Instructional expenses 6,076/FTE
  • Tuition and fee revenues 8,207/FTE
  • Total revenue 70,643,587
  • Mean SAT scores
  • 995 (25th percentile)
  • 1195 (75th percentile)

Coordination of Retention Efforts
  • 73.9 have a retention committee
  • 72.1 report coordinating retention-related
    programs somewhat or to a great extent
  • Mean FTE devoted to research on retention
  • .78 FTE
  • Analyses identified patterns in how institutions
    coordinate retention efforts
  • Presence of a campus-wide retention committee
  • FTE devoted to research on retention
  • The respondents ratings of campus coordination
    of retention efforts

Retention Coordinators
  • 59.1 report having an administrator charged with
    tracking and improving retention persistence
  • 72.6 of these report that the retention
    coordinator has some or a great deal of authority
    to implement new initiatives
  • 43.1 of these report that retention coordinator
    has some or a great deal of authority to fund new
  • Mean FTE dedicated to retention coordinator role
    .29 FTE
  • Responses revealed patterns in authority
    allocated to retention coordinators
  • Authority to implement new initiatives
  • Authority to fund new initiatives
  • FTE for the retention coordinator

Retention Analysis Activity
  • 98.8 of institutions analyze retention data
  • Annual analyses, broken out by class year, 95
  • Annual analyses, broken out by race/ethnicity,
  • Annual analyses, broken out by major, 70.9

Policies for Early Warning Faculty Interaction
  • Early Warning
  • Faculty Interaction Practices
  • 58.1 report they collect mid-term grade
    information for first-year students
  • However
  • 52.9 report they do not flag specific courses
    with high percentages of Ds, Fs, or Withdrawals
  • 61.0 report average class size for courses
    primarily taken by 1st year students is between
    1-30 students
  • However
  • 69.2 report that incentives for full-time
    faculty to teach first-year classes were
    non-existent or small

  • 80.5 report that more than three-quarters of
    first-year students participated in entire
    orientation program.
  • 90.8 report that more than 50 of first-year
    students participated in entire orientation
  • Orientation program entails 4.74 days (mean) for
    entering first-year students.
  • 44 report having an orientation program that
    extends through the first semester of classes.

Academic Advising
  • Advising Practices
  • Advising Roles
  • 82.6 require first-year students to meet with an
    academic advisor every term
  • 70.0 report that incentives for full-time
    faculty to serve as academic advisors were
    non-existent or small
  • 57.1 estimate that more than three-quarters of
    their first-year students were advised by
    full-time faculty
  • 28.4 estimate that more than three-quarters of
    first-year students were advised by professional

First-Year Experience
  • 73.4 offer for-credit courses specifically
    designed to help students adjust to college.
  • 50 report that all or almost all of their
    first-year students enrolled in a course designed
    to help students adjust to college.
  • 42.1 report that all or almost all of their
    students enrolled in a first-year seminar.

Regression on Retention Rates
Variables Beta Sig.
Authority of Retention Coordinator (Factor) -.113
Advising Required Each Term .106
Midterm Grade Reporting -.099
Residentialness .503
Total Revenue .142
Instructional Expenditures .301
Resources for Student Affairs (Index) -.015

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Some Caveats
  • Inferential analyses comprise an exploratory
    thread and a work in progress in a
    predominantly descriptive-level study
  • Some potential non-response bias
  • Responding institutions
  • Item-missing data
  • Focus on four-year colleges and universities

Discussion of Key Findings
  • Negative relationships between institutional
    efforts and persistence rates are intuitive and
    encouraging the institutions that should be
    most concerned appear to be more focused on
  • Buthow focused, extensive, and coordinated are
    these efforts?
  • Only 59 of respondents have retention
    coordinators and less than half are able to fund
    new initiatives.
  • The amount of time dedicated to the retention
    coordinator position is minimal.
  • Few incentives for faculty to take first-year
    teaching and advising seriously.

More Discussion on Key Findings
  • Residentialness matters which makes it tough for
    commuter institutions
  • A good, but worrisome sign the amount of money
    that schools spend on instruction matters (but
    national trends in this area are going in the
    wrong direction).
  • Understanding and improving student persistence
    takes institutional commitment.

Student Survey
  • College Board Pilot Study on Student Retention

College Board Pilot Study on Student Retention
Student Survey (Year One)
  • A survey of first-time, full-time, first-year
    students at 8 four-year institutions
  • Students surveyed at the end of their first year
    (spring 2006)
  • Web-based instrument
  • In-class paper-and-pencil administration
  • Self-administered via campus mail
  • Response rates varied widely from under 10 to
    over 35
  • Follow-up data collected from institutions to
    show enrollment in fall 2006
  • Allows us to look at persistence

Participating Campuses
  • Campuses included
  • 3 commuter campuses
  • 2 small private liberal arts colleges
  • 3 residential public universities
  • 1 public HBCU
  • 1 private HBCU
  • Institutions in six states

Survey focus on student experiences of
actionable institutional practices
  • Advising structures and policies
  • Orientation
  • Interaction with faculty
  • Active learning
  • Experiences with financial aid practices
  • Perceptions of campus climate
  • Perceptions of academic regulations
  • Availability and use of services and facilities

Institution-Specific Analyses
  • Descriptive information
  • Participation in student programs
  • Classroom experiences
  • Time diary items
  • Satisfaction
  • Inferential analyses
  • Explore factors associated with persistence
  • Merge data with SAT Questionnaire program and
    fall 2006 enrollment data to explore covariates
    of persistence

Results from Residential Campuses
  • Overview
  • Students Intent to Persist
  • Year-to-year persistence rates ranged from 74.6
    to 94
  • Factors capturing aspects of academic engagement
    emerge on one campus
  • Campus 2 High Academic Engagement (a.629 )
  • Campus 2 Use of Public Space for Learning
  • Logistic regressions showed that a traditional
    persistence model enhanced the prediction of
    which students did not persist
  • Variables that contribute significantly to intent
    to persist
  • Campus 1 development of friendship networks,
    class attendance, and positive perceptions about
    placement practices
  • Campus 2 high combined SAT score
  • Variables that detract significantly from
    respondents intent to persist
  • Campus 2 distance of residence from campus, time
    spent preparing for class

Results from Commuter Campuses
  • Overview
  • Students Intent to Persist
  • Year-to-year persistence rates ranged from 73.7
    to 83.4
  • Logistic regressions showed that a scaled-down
    traditional persistence model enhanced the
    prediction of which students did not persist
  • Overall variance explained by the models was
    relatively low though comparable to other
    research on persistence
  • Academic engagement variables included in the
    models did not show a significant effect
  • Variables that contribute significantly to intent
    to persist
  • Campus 1 development of friendship networks
  • Campus 2 certainty of being able to pay for

Summary of Cross-Case Findings
  • A consistent satisfaction factor emerged across
  • High reliabilities, ranging from .847 to .903
  • Encompasses students ratings of satisfaction on
  • overall educational experiences
  • overall quality of teaching in classes
  • technological resources
  • social experiences
  • level of support for students
  • Differences across campuses begin to emerge
    (promising, given goal of pilot study)
  • Robust factors for capturing
  • complexity of individual campus environments
  • practices surrounding retention

Challenges, Questions, Next Steps
  • Challenges
  • Identification of policy levers associated with
  • Lack of variability in survey responses on some
  • Use of findings by colleges to improve
  • Questions
  • Implications for policymakers?
  • Who is the audience and how would the results be
  • Next steps
  • Student survey has been revised and we are
    administering in class whenever possible
  • Institutional survey focus groups and refining of
  • Student survey is paired with an institutional
    survey effort

Where Are We Going?
  • Working with the College Board to create national
    benchmarking surveys for two- and four-year
  • First goal is to provide descriptive information
    about what peer institutions are doing.
  • As we gather data from more institutions we will
    also continue to examine how institutional
    intensity of effort, policies, and practices
    influence student success.

Contact Us
  • Indiana University
  • Project on Academic Success
  • http//
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