Study on Student Retention at SAIT Polytechnic

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Schools are judged by student retention rates, in addition this is a significant issue and remains at SAIT Polytechnic. This report will touch on several matters that directly affect retention. Certain problems that will be discussed are how student characteristics play a role with the problem, what environmental circumstances affect students, and how teachers play a role in managing this subject.

There were certain limitations in writing this subject of student retention time and unreliable partner are just to name a few, but with saying that I have done this to the best of my abilities considering those limitations.

Several assumptions can be made about this topic certain things are that this subject is significantly limited in the amount of information that can be found or that retention might be all up to the teacher's relationships with the students. In contrast, there are vast amounts of information on retention and this document will share variety of different opinions of how Student retention rates can be improved.

When conducting research several sources were used, these sources were an interview, book, e-book, and several websites were all used to gather the necessary information to write this report.

Understanding Student Characteristics

When a student drops-out it costs the student who did not complete the program due to loss of monetary value, these students then lose not only money but also a chance of bettering their career and changing their life. This is obviously a great shame especially if this situation could be prevented through better retention methods by the institution.

SAIT's Student Retention Plan has discovered the different student characteristics that also comprise a diverse learning environment. Based on the eight faculties in table 1, the retention average rate was 80%. This of course was for students who were following the planned course outline and will graduate on time. The retention rates for all students that include both on-track and off-track students were 90.6 %. (See the Table 1)

Table . Shows the retention rates for the eight faculties and SAIT overall.


Retention of

On-Track Students


of All Students







Health and Public Safety



Hospitality and Tourism






MacPhail School of Energy



Manufacturing and Automation






SAIT Average



Also, a number of studies point to the importance of retention. According to Case "If the annual effect of our retention efforts retains even one or two students in each of SAIT's programs, students who otherwise may have withdrawn, then the impact will be significant."(2010)

In addition, according to the Early Leavers Study research at SAIT, "there are 42% of people leaving after midterms and 24% leaving within the first month. The early leavers research report also said, 64% are male, 41% are between 17 and 19, 37% are from outside of Calgary and Alberta, 90% have English as their first language, and 31% came directly from high school."(2009)

There are many reasons that students leave from SAIT. Most students leave because they completed the credits they required or wanted; they changed their mind about their program or job goals, or they transferred or qualified for admission elsewhere. In addition, most students' loss of interest in studies, lack of goals or motivation, disappointment in their own performance, and program difficulty, but these students can go to a consulting centre to seek career and program advice, or tutoring service for those students who have difficulty for their courses. Therefore, it is significantly important to understand student fears and frustrations. The pressure that a student faces while attending classes can be depressing and will also be demoralizing if he or she cannot achieve the goals that they have set out to accomplish.

The majority of students set out to graduate, they often have a path set out and have strong social ties keeping them on the right track, so there is a sense of belonging. As a result, the student has a positive outlook towards school and the path they have chosen for school. In contrast, when a student has less of these attributes the greater the chance that the student will withdraw from the institution.


SAIT has made several savvy changes in the way the school functions. Several of these transformations include the way teachers use student centered and participation approaches. Another way that SAIT has changed the school environment is through technology, SAIT has transformed from a low tech to high tech, by offering students laptop's and smart board technology in the class rooms just to name a few. SAIT also offers teachers courses to help stay current with new and innovative technology

In addition when a person decides that SAIT is their institution of choice and registers for classes the student is offered up a variety of different activities ranging from student teacher BBQ's to first day orientation. By offering these activity's SAIT is building relationships with the students and enforcing bonds between faculty and student relationships, which if a student participates will help the student maintain a strong safety net to rely on.

Many programs and facilities are also offered up by SAIT that reiterate the student experience. These include counseling, prior learning assessment, learning skills, and student to student tutoring. Students also have access to a wide range of services and facilities through the Wellness Centre. In addition, SAIT provides support for Aboriginal students and international students through Chinook Lodge and the International Student Centre.


Instructors are an important key for student retention at SAIT. Instructors should keep focused on student's motivation and retention in each class; they also need to have the goal of seeing all of their students successfully complete each of their classes. It is significantly important to understand students and use proven motivation and retention techniques to keep them enrolled and engaged in the learning process.

"Instructors who create a meaningful learning environment encourage students to maintain continued progress, which results in retention, not only to keep students in the program but also to improve educational outcomes. Student retention becomes an issue of persistence because they face a lot of challenges at their academic journey." (B. Johnson, 2010)

There are several examples of common challenges students face involving disagreements with their instructors. One example of a challenge is that students may have negative interactions with instructors this might cause a direct impact on the perception the student has about their class. Students will either continue their studies, because of the commitments made to complete their program, or they might leave out of frustration and anger.

In addition, I believe it is not all up to the instructors they can use all these techniques and still lose students. This is because retention remains in large part in the hands of the students and their attitudes, their circumstances, and their dedication to the program and goals that they have set out for themselves.

Moreover, the SAIT employer instructor relationship does plays a big role in retention at SAIT. "I am firmly of the belief that happy instructors equal happy students. Well supported instructors equal well supported students." (J. Himann, personnel communication, November 26, 2010).


After much deliberation of all information, the following conclusions on student retention have been made.

Students should be fully prepared when entering into a program to complete the program to the best of their abilities.

Students should make the effort to take advantage of all programs offered by SAIT to maintain good grades and a positive outlook

Teachers should take programming offered by SAIT to keep up with current technological trends and teaching techniques.

SAIT Polytechnic should do as much as possible to maintain positive relationships with teachers to help with good student teacher relationships.


At a minimum the following recommendations should be followed by students, teachers, and SAIT to maintain and work on improving student retention rates.

Students must to save the necessary amount of money to maintain a comfortable life outside of school/

For students to be successful dedicating time to the programs offered by SAIT will help to reinforce a strong safety net that they can rely on if future troubles should arise.

When teachers stay up to date with technology this helps students remain interested in the program being offered.

When SAIT maintains good relationships with faculty members this in turn causes teachers to be happy, which means teachers will have positive attitudes towards good student teacher relationships.