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“Yes, No, Maybe So”: What We Know and Don’t Know about Student Retention Kathleen M. Morley, Ph.D. Betsy O. Barefoot, Ed.D. Policy Center on the First.

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Presentation on theme: "“Yes, No, Maybe So”: What We Know and Don’t Know about Student Retention Kathleen M. Morley, Ph.D. Betsy O. Barefoot, Ed.D. Policy Center on the First."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Yes, No, Maybe So”: What We Know and Don’t Know about Student Retention Kathleen M. Morley, Ph.D. Betsy O. Barefoot, Ed.D. Policy Center on the First Year of College October 31, 2005

2 The College Experience Academic Integration Social Integration

3 The College Experience Academic Performance Persistence

4 The College Experience Remedial programs Supplemental instruction First-year seminars

5 The College Experience Advising/counseling programs Comprehensive at-risk programs Undergraduate research

6 The College Experience Financial aid Student-faculty interaction Peer interaction Residence

7 The College Experience Learning communities Academic major Engagement Intercollegiate athletics

8 The College Experience Summary: Best predictor: college grades Interventions shown to work So, why low retention? Assess campus needs & solutions

9 Narrowing the Focus: Most Common (and Powerful) Retention Initiatives First-year seminars  Free-standing courses  Variable credit hours  Variable content  Graded or pass/fail  Required or elective  Offered at approximately 94% of American colleges and universities  Can be integrated with residence life Learning communities  Linking 2 or more courses  Thematic connection and faculty interaction or just co- enrollment  Can include a first-year seminar  Rarely but occasionally required  Offered at approximately 62% of American colleges and universities  Can be integrated with residence life

10 Desired Outcomes – Including, but not Limited to, Retention First-year seminars  Improved retention/ graduation rates  Improved gpa’s  More credit hours attempted/completed  Student adjustment/ involvement  Student satisfaction  Content knowledge Learning Communities  Improved retention/ graduation rates  Academic gpa’s and “learning”  Connections across disciplines  Connections with other students  Deepened diversity and leadership skills  Professional development for faculty

11 Actual Retention Outcomes First-year seminars  Few random-sample or controlled studies  Weight of evidence points to positive and statistically significant effects on retention  Dynamics underlying effects are unclear  FYS participants are 5 to 15% more likely to graduate within 4 years Learning communities  Even fewer controlled studies  Evidence points to positive effects on retention  Dynamics underlying effects are unclear  LC participants are up to 15% more likely to persist to the second year.

12 Harnessing Potential Synergy Linking first-year seminars with learning communities Seminars can become linchpin that holds larger learning community together. Seminars can provide opportunity for academic skills practice. Seminars can address student issues without taking time away from content courses.

13 Challenges First-year Seminar  “ A course about nothing”  “A course about everything”  Academic validity  Support from faculty  Student attitudes  Overall quality control Learning Communities  Registrar’s cooperation  It’s all or nothing – no halfway participation  Faculty interest and collaboration  Doesn’t work for part- time students  Overall quality control

14 Either Intervention Can Be an Arrow in the Retention Quiver It’s up to you! Resources: Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education, The Evergreen State College (Learning communities) National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, University of South Carolina (First-year seminars)

15 Contact Information Kathleen M. Morley, Assistant Director  Betsy O. Barefoot, Co-Director & Senior Scholar  Policy Center on the First Year of College


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