Retention is one of the key performance indicators in university quality assurance processes. The purpose of this paper is to identify the causes leading to low retention…
Retention is one of the key performance indicators in university quality assurance processes. The purpose of this paper is to identify the causes leading to low retention rates for first-year undergraduate computing students in a UK higher education institution (HEI).
The study applies Tinto’s student integration theory, and connects it with the behavioural patterns of students. Data were collected from 901 students using Pascarella and Terenzini’s questionnaire (integration scales). This data were combined with student enrolment information and analysed using the structural equation modelling technique.
The study results indicate that Tinto’s student integration theory is useful in analysing student retention, but this accounts for only a modest amount of variance in retention. Nevertheless, important relationships amongst student’s initial and later academic goals and commitments have been identified through this new approach to analysing retention. The largest direct effect on retention was accounted for by initial goals and institutional commitments, followed by later goals and institutional commitments. In addition, the results show that academic and social integration constructs can have an influence on the student retention processes. When all, or some, of these relationships are operating towards students’ benefits, appropriate services or programmes, such as student support systems, can have their maximum benefits.
The authors mapped behavioural-related retention factors using a learning community lens. The study explored students’ social and learning experiences within the context of a UK HEI by employing Tinto’s model. This is the first time the model has been tested in this context.