Determine Why Retention Fluctuates

Almost every college and university measures retention rates. Although these indices are useful, they do not tell us why retention varies from year to year or if a program designed to reduce attrition is effective. Administrators may speculate on the factors influencing retention rates, but very few schools can offer empirical evidence indicating why attrition rates change. In other words, most schools comprehension of retention relies exclusively on logic and faith. If there is endless speculation about the causes of retention at your school, then you need to be using the CPQ.

The ten scales of the Student Experiences Form of the CPQ are particularly helpful in identifying if a school’s efforts, rather than some other variables, are affecting overall retention. Let’s take a simple example. Assume that over a three year period that retention rates increase and that there is a corresponding improvement in mean scores on the Academic Integration, Social Integration, and Advising scales. Then these data would be consistent with the premise that these variables are contributing to the better retention rates.

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