Research Proposal On Retention In First Year Students Attending Traditional And For-Profit Universities

Published: 2021-07-22 05:00:07
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Chapter One: Introduction3
Background of the Research6
Statement of the Problem7
Purpose of the Study 7
Research Questions..7
Definition of Terms .7
Limitations ..7
Significance of the Study7
Organization of the Study7
Chapter Two: Review of Literature 7
Spady’s (1970) Theory of Student Departure16
Tinto’s (1975) Student Integration Theory19
Pascarella’s (1980) Attrition Theory 24
Astin’s (1984) Student Involvement Theory26
Bean and Metzner’s (1985) Student Attrition Theory28
Cabrera’s (1992) Integrated Retention Theory7
Criticism of the theories.7
Conclusion 7
Chapter Three: Method .7
Introduction 5
Research Paradigm.7
Research Questions7
Research Design.7
Instrumentation 7
Data Collection Method7
Data Analysis7
Chapter Four: Results .7
Summary of the findings..7
Graphs and Tables.7
Chapter Five: Discussion..7
Summary of Results..7
Discussion of Findings..7
The impact of student background..7
The role of financial aid, scholarship program and flexible college timings5
The impact of educational goal, institutional commitment, and parental support 6
Role of Academic factors, Institutional factors and social integration7
Chapter Six: Conclusion..264
Purpose of the study264
Method Review266
Major findings267
Recommendations for future research.7
There is no doubt that the subject of student persistence has permeated numerous academic debates in addition to being topics of discussion in diverse academic literature. Chang, Lerer & Talley (2010) define retention, as “the enrollment of a number of a specific group of individuals compared to the official number during its census” (p. 347). Lack of persistence caused by a complexity of factors ranging from financial difficulties, changes in career aspirations and evolved career goals, change perceptions regarding college, course load, race/ethnicity, and integration into life in college among other factors (Kamanzi, 2010).
Problem statement
It has been estimated that out of the students who enroll in the first year of a university, approximately one quarter of them do not graduate. Similarly, in a report published by US senate (2012), it has also been found that about half a million of students who got admission in for-profit universities the year 2008-2009 left the institute without a degree by mid of 2010. Such alarming low retention rates have been a major matter of concern for the academic institutions, their administration, and the society. There are a number of factors which determine the reason for low retention rates which have been widely studied for the past several years. Consequently, several retention theories and models have incorporated determinants governing student drop out but they often fail to address the complete picture that could be applied to the specific educational institutes. Based on this shortcoming, institutes lack formulating a strong retention program and continue to struggle with high drop-out rates. Hence, it is not only the concern of the academic institution but the society is also at stake.
Introduction The objectives, structure, and functions of higher education have evolved over time and such changes accompanied by evolving patterns of student admission and persistence. Despite increased research and improvement in academic programs, education administrators continue to grapple with the issue of decreased level of persistence among first year students who fail to make it to their second year in college. Researchers and scholars have undertaken various efforts aimed at examining the psychological, economic, organizational, and sociological theories relating to student persistence and/or retention (Engel, Holford, & Pimlott-Wilson, 2010) thereby leading to the development of sophisticated models that can be used to predict the outcome of students. Nonetheless, efforts from these models are yet to identify the factors that determine the level of student persistence which in turn affects the success of retention programs. For this reason, the aim of this study is to examine the major factors which influence the rate of student retention for traditional and for-profit colleges because such institutes are often doubted for the quality of education they impart because of the high tuition fees which it demands.
Research Questions
- How do race, gender, and academic major account for predicting intent to return to university the following semester in traditional and for-profit universities?
- In what ways do scholarship programs, financial resources (socio-economic resources/loans/debts), and flexible timings create a significant difference in the rate of student retention in for-profit universities as compared to the traditional universities?
- What is the impact of educational goal, institutional commitment, and parental support on student persistence in traditional and for-profit universities?
- How does the academic factors (student satisfaction with teaching methodology, specific attention, support service and GPA), institutional factors (climate, facilities, support service, career placement), and social interaction (quality of friendship, participation in groups and extracurricular activities and informal interaction with faculty) affect the intent to return the institute the following semester?
Research Paradigm/ Context
This longitudinal research would adhere to a pragmatist epistemology as the study incorporates quantitative as well as qualitative method of data collection. This paradigm is suitable for the current study as pragmatist are subjective as well as objective since at several occasions they administer the data collection procedure while at other incidents, they are at a distance.
Research Design
This is a longitudinal study which aims at analyzing the factors which affect student retention rate in traditional and for-profit universities/ colleges. The key variables that would be addressed include institutional factors such as climate, career placement, facilities, support services, academic factors such as teaching methodology, student GPAs, faculty interaction, social interaction, scholarship programs and more. Since there are a number of student retention models which emphasize upon economic, psychological, and various other factors, this study has incorporated the missing variables which would play an important role in student drop out in for-profit and traditional universities. These variables would be addressed in the research in the form of focus group interviews and questionnaire responses which would result in a number of experiences including of those who have left college before graduation and those students who are planning to drop out.
A cohort of first year students would be the target of this study. The total number of males and females age 15-19 years enrolled in the first year of a four year for-profit and traditional university/college would be the population of this study The sample of this study would be male/female students (between 15-19 years) who are currently enrolled in their first year, those who have transferred to another college to continue first year or start second year and those who have dropped out after enrolling/completing first year would be the target of the study. Data would be collected for the past five years from the participants. The sample would be divided according to their gender, race and academic major. Purposive sampling would be used to collect data from the target participants as the study proceeds with a qualitative design and is specifically focusing at a special set of students. In addition to the students, the administration staff would also participate in this study as interviewing them would result in profound knowledge in relation to the institutional policies.
Data Collection
The data would be collected using a mixed method approach. This will be carried out using questionnaires and semi-structured interviews. Questionnaires would be administered on individual basis and it would also be emailed to students whose details would be retrieved from the respective institutes. Interviews would be conducted using the focus group technique as it would not only save time but would address an issue from people sharing several commonalities. The students already enrolled in the first year could be interviewed via focus groups of 6-8 participants differing on the basis of their major subject. This can be done at the end of the semester or when the time of course registration is near. Similarly, few admin members would also be interviewed in order to collect data regarding the scholarship programs, career placements and other institutional intricacies which are of concern. As a matter of fact, there would be separate interviews for those who have already dropped out of the college and those who are still enrolled in their first year and are indecisive. By interviewing the enrolled students, an idea about the factors which aid drop out could be assessed and on the basis of the knowledge received, the designed questionnaire could be modified. Students who have dropped out and those who have transferred would be located via academic records. A questionnaire based on a likert scale would be designed in correspondence to the variables of the study (demographics, institutional factors, academic factors, finance and parental support) and further variable would be included in case the focus group interviews of enrolled students generate additional knowledge. Questionnaires would also be emailed to the participants and they would be asked to meet for focus group interviews. Interview responses would further add in to the data collected through the quantitative method of questionnaires thereby increasing the accuracy of the research study (Ruane, 2005) as the primary data collected can be used to match against the secondary sources (Maxwell, 1996). Furthermore, using a mixed method approach would result in triangulation and aid in the process of cross examination. In order to minimize the error in transcribing or interpreting responses, interviews would also be recorded. The process of instrumentation would be preceded by a consent form and the confidentiality about the data would be informed to the participants.
Research procedure
Since the primary purpose of this study is to compare the factors that affect the retention rates among first year college students in For-Profit and Traditional Universities, a mixed method approach would be used. In other words, triangulation using a questionnaire and focus group interviews would enhance the accuracy of results so that a clear understanding about the factors affecting student retention could be examined. Based on the secondary research, the variables that would be addressed include the academic, institutional, social and other factors. Moreover, upon interviewing the administration and the enrolled students, more variables could be later added in the study. Data would be collected from a four year for-profit and a four year traditional college/university so that the difference in the rate of retention and the factors governing it could be examined. In addition, the study would collect information about students dropping out or transferring after first year for a period of five years.
Data Analysis
The results obtained from the questionnaire would be coded and analyzed using regression and correlation model. On the other hand, the interview responses would be analyzed via a constant comparison method which would not only help outline the difference between the students who are deciding to leave college and those who have already left, but will also help in distinguishing the rate if retention in for-profit college/university as compared to the traditional institute.
Chang, Y. Lerer, N. & Talley, K. (2010). Considering leaving before they've even started: an examination of freshmen at risk for transfer. On the Horizon, 18(4)
Dossary, S. (2008). “A study of the factors affecting student retention at King Saud University, Saudi Arabia: Structural Equation Modeling and Qualitative Methods.” PhD Dissertation, University of Sterling.
Engel, L. C, Holford, J. & Pimlott-Wilson, H. (2010). Effectiveness, inequality, and ethos in three English schools. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy 3(3)
Kamanzi, P. C. et. al (2010). Academic persistence among Canadian First-Generation University Students. Montreal: CIRST
Luke, C. (2009). “An examination of psychological factors that predict college student success and retention.” PhD Dissertation, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.
Meyer, N. (2010). “Preventing High School Dropouts: What Do Students Believe
Caused Them to Leave the Comprehensive High School?” PhD Dissertation. San Diego State University
Pitkethly, A., & Prosser, M. (2001). The first year experience project: A model for university-wide change. Higher Education Research & Development, 20(2), 185-198.
Schuh, J. H. (2005). Finances and retention: Trends and potential implications. In A Seidman, College student retention: A formula for success (277-294). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Seidman, A. (2005). “Minority Student Retention: Resources for Practitioners.” Minority
Retention: What Works? Ed. G.H. Gaither. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
United States Senate. (2012). For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success. Committee staff report: USA.
Waller, T. (2009). “A mixed method approach for assessing the adjustment of incoming first year engineering students in summer bridge program.” PhD Dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
Methodological References
Fossey, E. (2002). Understanding and evaluating qualitative research. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 36: 717–732
Kothari, R., C. (2009). Research Methodology: Methods and Techniques. India: New Age International. Print.
McBurney, D., & White, T. (2009). Research Methods. USA: Cengage Learning. Print

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