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Student Factors that Impact Retention in Higher Education

Martha Barnard, Lindsey Jansen, Kate Rudberg, Dr. Paul Roback, Dr. Christopher Chapp, Dr. Lauren Feiler, Depart of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, St. Olaf College, 1500 St. Olaf Ave. Northfield, MN, USA

Higher education institutions have faced declining student retention for over a decade, with an average of 67 percent of students continuing into their second year (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center). Work on the identification of college spending, student demographics, and intervention programs has been undertaken to better understand the characteristics that may influence a student to leave an institution (Center for the Study of College Student Retention). In order to broaden institutions' understanding of why students do not retain, we examined diverse datasets from St. Olaf College that included predictors such as demographics, housing information, academics, extracurricular activities, and students’ written responses from admissions. Using regression and machine learning techniques, we created separate models of first-year student retention that can be used at the beginning and at the end of fall semester. We found that GPA, race, participation in extracurriculars, and student writing responses were all significantly related to retention. Understanding factors that are related to retention and the predictive capacity of our models will help St. Olaf College and other higher education institutions create effective intervention programs to improve student experience and retention.




Additional Abstract Information

Presenters: Martha Barnard, Lindsey Jansen, Kate Rudberg

Institution: St. Olaf College

Type: Poster

Subject: Education

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4516