Purpose – Through a description of changes in institutional approaches to academic advising, this case study provides strategies for improving retention rates of first-year students deemed ‘at-risk’ of leaving university before second-year enrolment.
Methodology/approach – The study targets first-years who have been identified as ‘at-risk’ in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Temple is a large public research institution in the United States, home to approximately 35,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, of whom, 6,000 are enrolled in the CLA. The current case study focuses on the systematic and intentional processes developed by academic advisors or tutors in CLA to ensure students' progression from their first to second year. Project 2013, named for the intended graduation year of the initial target population, is a proactive retention initiative, and this study delineates the evolution of the innovation, development of the target group, project objectives, implementation of retention strategies, outcomes of the project, successes, limitations and future considerations.
Findings – Through sustained highly personalised interventions with first-year ‘at-risk’ students, the retention rate for this population improved by nearly 7% over the University's average for similar students and met the overall retention rate of the University's general student population.
Practical implications – The outcomes of this project suggest that with careful, strategic planning, clear execution by facilitators and ongoing assessment of such interventions, student retention and, by extension, persistence to graduation should improve significantly enough to warrant strong, ongoing institutional commitment.
Andrews, R.N. and Drake, J.K. (2011), "Chapter 2.2 Project 2013: A Model for Increasing First-Year At-Risk Student Retention Rates", Thomas, L. and Tight, M. (Ed.) Institutional Transformation to Engage a Diverse Student Body (International Perspectives on Higher Education Research, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 67-75. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3628(2011)0000006008
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