As we welcome February with lots of snow (I blame the groundhog), time seems to be moving at a very hasty pace. The Inaugural TAAC Conference is only 43 days away (March 19, 2014–mark your calendars!) and we have lots of presenters still to cover! Last post you learned all about Nora Manz and her TransferCheck presentation. Now, moving forward, we have a duo from Saint Joseph’s University presenting on student retention.
Kim Allen-Stuck and Dan McDevitt work in the Office of Student Success at Saint Joseph’s University. Their work focuses on student persistence to graduation. Since the opening of the Office of Student Success, the first year to sophomore retention rate went from 85.5% to 89% and graduation rates from 75% to 78%. To put this in context the national average for retention is 75% and graduation is 59%. The success of improving persistence rates can be attributed to focusing on individual outreach to students facing obstacles, coordinated support throughout campus, and institutional changes resulting from student feedback.
To better understand why students voluntarily withdraw, the University centralized the exit process and implemented the One Question Exit Interview (1QEI). During an exit interview students are asked to weigh the reasons they are leaving by placing poker chips on a colorful game board. By engaging in a fun and consistent way, the students get closure and the University receives feedback to improve retention. The responses from the 1QEI are regularly shared with the campus community and have been attributed to policy changes and plans for improvement. The tools for implementing this strategy and outcomes will be shared during the session.
Since Kim and Dan’s presentation refers to student retention, both transfer students and traditional first-year students are taken into consideration here. With the proven success at Saint Joseph’s University, it will be nice to hear an insider’s report and learn some tricks of the trade!