A Formula for Retention

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Category: Education
     
 

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This presentation argues that in order to increase student retention in distance education it's necessary to focus on a few specific activities which have clear retention effects. 'Supporting students at a distance' - www.ormondsimpson.com

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“R = AC + EId + (E + C).PaC + ExS”- a formula for retention? : 

“R = AC + EId + (E + C).PaC + ExS”- a formula for retention? Ormond Simpson - Visiting Fellow CDE

Retention - what doesn't work? (1) : 

Retention - what doesn't work? (1) Pushing all the buttons at once Assuming good practice spreads organically Restricting research into support issues Assuming work can be entirely faculty led ‘Trying everything that might work, doesn’t work’ Veronique Johnston (Napier, 2002) The ‘retention goulash’ approach

Retention - what doesn't work? (2) : 

Retention - what doesn't work? (2) Setting up large Retention Projects as one-offs. Vincent Tinto (Bogota, 2009 paraphrased) They fade out.... “Retention? - we’ve done that”

Retention - what does work? : 

Retention - what does work? ‘Almost everything works’ Professor John Hattie (Auckland 2009)

The ‘Retention Formula’ : 

The ‘Retention Formula’ Retention = AC + EId + (E + C).PaC + ExS AC = Appropriate Course Choice, EId = Early Identification of vulnerable students (E + C) = (Early and Continuous) PaC = Proactive Contact ExS = External Support (the Simpson-Seidmann formula…?!)

AC = Appropriate Course : 

AC = Appropriate Course Course brochure descriptions may be - too short to be accurate - too long to be comprehended - use terms like ...‘Introduction to...’ ...‘An elementary approach to...’ - which are not accurately understood

AC = Appropriate Course : 

AC = Appropriate Course Taster Packs - samples of course content and assignments Students’ Reviews - comments on courses they’ve taken Diagnostic quizzes

Slide 8: 

The Taster Pack

Slide 9: 

Taster Pack contents Course selection Sample assignment Student’s answer Tutor’s comments Specimen exam question

Student course reviews : 

10 10 Student course reviews

AC = Appropriate CourseStudents’ comments on A210 ‘Approaching Literature’ : 

11 AC = Appropriate CourseStudents’ comments on A210 ‘Approaching Literature’ “An absolutely wonderful course, a wide variety of literature .. a realistic amount of reading. I passed despite giving birth half way. It follows on beautifully from A103, more complex but not too big a leap.”“The breadth of literature covered is fascinating but the course is poorly structured. Reading load is heavy - read the novels before it starts. “...An eclectic collection, let down by prolix course material. Why use one word when six will do?”

Self-assessed diagnostic quizzes : 

Self-assessed diagnostic quizzes Course specific quizzes - maths, languages etc General quizzes- humanities, social science, business studies etc

Slide 13: 

HOW GOOD ARE YOUR CHANCES OF PASSING?

How did you score? : 

How did you score? 100 or above: (70%+ chance of success) The outlook is very bright for you. You’ll undoubtedly have your share of challenges but you should be able to get things off to a good start. 75 to 99: (50-60% chance of success) This will be a challenge you’ve taken on and it will be useful to see if you can increase your point score in some way. For example do think about changing to a lower level course just for the first year – you can step up the pace later on. If you are taking more than one course then again do think of switching to just one. Under 75: (50% or lower chance of success) You’ll still be able succeed but if you can increase your score that would really improve your chances. You may not want to change sex (!) but you could change your course, increase your current educational qualifications by taking a short course of some kind – the ‘Openings’ courses are ideal – and so on.

EId = Early Identification of vulnerable students : 

EId = Early Identification of vulnerable students ‘Binary regression analysis’ - calculates a ‘predicted probability of success’ for every student.

EId = Early Identification - accuracy : 

EId = Early Identification - accuracy

E(PaC) = Early Proactive Contact : 

E(PaC) = Early Proactive Contact - taking initiative to contact individual students interactively as early as possible. ‘Student self-referral does not work as a mode of promoting persistence. Students who need services the most refer themselves the least. ‘Effective retention services take the initiative in outreach and timely interventions.’ (Anderson, US)

Proactive Motivational Support in OU – results of pre-course contact : 

19 Proactive Motivational Support in OU – results of pre-course contact

(i) Institutional retention activity - costs : 

20 (i) Institutional retention activity - costs An activity costing £P per student increases student retention by n% - then the ‘cost per student retained’ = £100P/n Eg UKOU an initial ‘proactive motivational contact’ to new students: - costs £10 per student - increases retention by up to 4% - So cost per student retained is £100x10/4 = £250

(ii) Institutional retention activity- benefits (OU example) : 

21 (ii) Institutional retention activity- benefits (OU example) Student fee income – neutral against costs HEFCE grant income in OU – about £1100 per student completing each year Savings on recruitment – recruitment cost per new student ~£600. So maybe ~£300 to replace dropout = total benefit of about £1400 per student retained

Return on investment in UKOU of a ‘proactive motivational contact’: : 

22 Return on investment in UKOU of a ‘proactive motivational contact’: Cost of activity = £250 per student retained Benefit of activity = £1400 per student retained Net benefit ~ £1150 per student retained 35,000 new OU students each year 4% increase in retention = 1400 students retained So net benefit to institution ~ £1.6m pa

C(PaC) = Continuous Proactive contact : 

C(PaC) = Continuous Proactive contact - But how much? Too little = ineffective? Too much = too expensive?

Number of Proactive contacts per course (Burt 2007) : 

24 24 Number of Proactive contacts per course (Burt 2007) Satisfaction scale % Proactive Contact - how much? – (1)

Proactive Contact - how much? – (2) : 

Proactive Contact - how much? – (2) - also Case and Elliot (US 1997): 2-5 proactive calls gave 15% increase in retention

Retention = AC + EId + (E + C).PaC + ExS ExS = External Support- OU survey of sources of support to students : 

26 26 Retention = AC + EId + (E + C).PaC + ExS ExS = External Support- OU survey of sources of support to students (Asbee and Simpson 2001)

ExS = External Support : 

ExS = External Support ‘Black Box’ research (before dropout) importance of close, support networks (Temperton, 1998)

ExS = External Support Student-student support 1 : 

ExS = External Support Student-student support 1 ‘Student mentoring’ (students who’ve completed a course mentoring new students on that course) increases retention by 35% over non-mentored group (Boyle 1998) Cost per student retained = £160

Student-student support 2 : 

Student-student support 2 Peer support via computer conferencing - But not always popular?

Student-student support 3 : 

Student-student support 3

Slide 32: 

32 32

Simplifying the formula? : 

Simplifying the formula? “If a tutor phones me I love them already” OPNZ student - INDIVIDUAL PROACTIVE CONTACT

‘Future directions…. : 

‘Future directions…. ‘International Journal for Distance Student Retention Studies’ Where do we go from here?