Theories of Retention - John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in

Report
Theories of Retention
and Student Success
Matthew D. Pistilli, Ph.D.
Director of Assessment & Planning, Division of Student Affairs
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis
John N. Gardner
President
John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education
January 14, 2015 · Costa Mesa, CA
Prominent Retention Theories
•Astin
•Tinto
•Padilla
•Bean and Eaton
•Gardner
Astin’s Student Involvement Theory
Focuses on three aspects of college:
• Inputs
• Environment
• Output
Developed as an alternative to other complex theories
Environment
Inputs
Output
Astin’s Student Involvement Theory (1984)
Definitions
• Involvement:
The amount of physical and psychological
energy that the student devotes to the
academic experience. (1985, p. 134)
• Exists on a continuum, with students investing
varying levels of energy
• Is both quantitative and qualitative
• Direct relationship between student learning and
student involvement
• Effectiveness of policy or practice directly related to
their capacity to increase student learning
(Astin, 1985, 1999)
Inputs
• The personal, background, and educational
characteristics that students bring with them to
postsecondary education that can influence
educational outcomes (Astin, 1984).
• Astin (1993) identified 146 characteristics, including
• Demographics
• High school academic achievement
• Previous experiences & self-perceptions
Output
• Basic level
• Academic Achievement
• Retention
• Graduation
• More abstractly
• Skills
• Behaviors
• Knowledge
The things we are
attempting to
develop in students
Environment
• Where we have the most control
• Factors related to students’ experience while in
college
• Astin (1993) identified 192 variables across 8
overarching classifications
Institutional characteristics
Financial Aid
Peer group characteristics
Major Field Choice
Faculty characteristics Place of residence
Curriculum
Student involvement
Takeaways from Astin
• We have little control over inputs
• Outputs are usually measured in binary terms, but
we have a greater opportunity beyond simply
retaining/graduating students
• We have a great deal of control over the
environment into which we place our students
What aspects of the environment can you focus on as
you develop plans to increase student success?
Tinto’s Model of
Student Departure
• Near-paradigmatic stature (Braxton, 1999)
• Based on
• Durkheim’s Theory of Suicide
• van Gennep’s “successful rites of passage”
• Looks at students’ pre-entry attributes, goals &
commitments, and internal/external experiences
(Tinto, 1993)
Tinto’s Model (continued)
• Considers both formal and informal interactions
and experiences
• Does not leave learning to chance – intentionally
creates purposeful environments
• Places strong emphasis on academic and social
integration
(Tinto, 1993)
PRE-ENTRY
ATTRIBUTES
GOALS
&
COMMITMENTS
(T1)
INSTITUTIONAL
EXPERIENCES
PERSONAL /
GOALS
NORMATIVE
&
INTEGRATION COMMITMENTS (2)
OUTCOME
ACADEMIC SYSTEM
FORMAL
ACADEMIC
PERFORMANCE
FAMILY
BACKGROUND
FACULTY/STAFF
INTERACTIONS
INTENTIONS
INFORMAL
ACADEMIC
INTEGRATION
INTENTIONS
SKILLS
&
ABILITIES
DEPARTURE
DECISION
GOAL &
INSTITUTIONAL
COMMITMENTS
PRIOR
SCHOOLING
FORMAL
EXTRACURRICULAR
ACTIVITIES
SOCIAL
INTEGRATION
GOAL &
INSTITUTIONAL
COMMITMENTS
PEER-GROUP
INTERACTIONS
INFORMAL
SOCIAL SYSTEM
EXTERNAL
COMMITMENTS
TIME (T)
Theoretical
Model Of Student
Retention
Tinto’sTinto’s
Model
of Student
Departure
(1993)
Takeaways from Tinto
• Students’ goals and external commitments are
real factors in their success and persistence
• Students need to excel both academically
and socially
• Initiatives such as learning communities,
academically-themed housing, and leadership
programs can increase academic and social
integration
Where are there opportunities to foster academic
and social integration on your campus as part of
your retention planning?
Padilla’s Conceptualization
of Expertise
• Developed a theory based on minority student success
• In short, what separates students who successfully complete
college from those who do not graduate?
• Black Box Model
• Geography of Barriers
• Knowledge acquisition
• Negotiating Barriers
• Successful negotiation of Barriers
• Developed after studying successful minority students
at an institution in the Southwest
(Padilla, 1999)
Incoming
Students
Campus Experience
Graduates
(Black Box)
(Output)
(Input)
Dropouts
(Output)
(Padilla, 1999)
Campus Experience:
Geography of Barriers
Incoming
Students
Graduates
(Input)
(Output)
Dropouts
(Output)
(Padilla, 1999)
Conceptualization of Expertise
Heuristic Knowledge
Component
Rules of
Thumb
Campus
Dependent
Experiential
Learning
Initial
Knowledge
Classroom
Learning
Campus
Independent
The gray curve is a potential
distribution in the acquisition
of theoretical and heuristic
knowledge over time.
Laws,
Axioms &
Principles
Total Knowledge
at Graduation
(compiled
knowledge)
Theoretical Knowledge
Component
(Padilla, 1999)
Takeaways from Padilla
• Our campuses are full of barriers for students –
usually in the form of policies, regulations, and
practices.
• Students are experts in their own success – and their
peers’ failure
• Heuristic and/or theoretical knowledge must be
tapped by students to overcome barriers
What barriers exist on your campus that can be
removed to facilitate processes students must navigate
or to allow for progress towards degree objectives?
Bean and Eaton’s Psychological
Model of Student Retention
• Based in four psychological theories
• Attitude-behavior theory
• Provides overall structure of model
• Coping-behavioral theory
• Self-efficacy theory
• Attribution (locus of control) theory
• These three things combine to form a model for
understanding academic and social integration
(Bean & Eaton, 1999)
Bean and Eaton’s Psychological Model of Student Retention (1999)
Takeaways from Bean & Eaton
• Students enter with characteristics over which we
have little control (see Astin’s inputs)
• Interactions occur between students and the
institution in many forms and on multiple occasions –
but these interactions do not automatically integrate
students into the environment
• Students determine the extent to which they belong
during these interactions
How can your retention plan work to increase the
extent to which students believe they belong on
your campus?
Definition of First-Year
Student Success
Academic Success/GPA
This broad definition of
Relationships
first-year student success
Identity Development
is achievable only
through partnerships.
Career Decision Making
Health & Wellness
Faith & Spirituality
Multicultural Awareness
Civic Responsibility
Retention – the baseline
Broad discussion
• Commonalities
• Differences distinct enough to matter
• Application
What are your takeaways from these theories?
What parts of these theories speak to your
home institution?
References
Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher
education. Journal of College Student Development, 24, 297-308.
Astin, A. W. (1985). Involvement: The cornerstone of excellence. Change, 17, 35-39
Astin, A. W. (1993). What matters in college? Liberal Education, 79(4), 4-15.
Astin, A. W. (1999). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher
education. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 518-529.
Bean, J., & Eaton, S. B. (2001). The psychology underlying successful retention
practices. Journal of College Student Retention, 3(1), 73-89.
Braxton, J. M. (1999). Theory elaboration and research and development: Toward a
fuller understanding of college student retention. Journal of College Student
Retention, 1, 93-97.
Padilla, R. V. (1999). College student retention: Focus on success. Journal of College
Student Retention, 1, 131-145.
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student
attrition (2nd Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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