Universities Face The Problem Of Student Attrition Education Essay

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in the first year. Most first year students drop out or leave university before the completion of their course. Different researches have been done to find out factors of student attrition in order to support the first year students and to help them finish their first year course successfully. Coates (2005) states that the responsibility to engage students in learning lies not only with students but also with institutions and their teaching staff who must provide the necessary conditions, opportunities and expectations for such engagement to happen. Below are three research articles about first year student attrition. The first article by Nelson, Duncan and Clarke (2009) discusses the identification and support of first year university students at risk of attrition. The second article by Meer (2009) indicates the finding related to first-year students' experience of interaction with staff in a period of study and with other students through group work. Similarly, in the third research article by Krause (2005), the data drawn from the national study of the first year experience in Australian universities is reported to examine the characteristics of students who seriously consider dropping out of university during their first year.


The methodology for each research article is different. In the first article, the approach to monitoring student engagement is from the First Year Experience Program at the Queensland University of Technology, which aims at reducing attrition and maximizing learning and engagement amongst commencing students. This research is done through the student Success Project. In the project, students who are at risk of attrition are contacted by Student Success Advisors. Call scheduling progress through four main phases during a semester - the start of semester, the first four weeks, the first assignment submission and before the final assessment. At risk students are contacted to help them learn the five units in the first semester. Unlike article 1, article 2 uses research projects to identify what initiatives may enhance first-year students' experience. One of the projects on which this article paper reports, two data sources were used. The first source was data from a survey carried out in May 2004 amongst students enrolled in 100-level courses (n=1967). The second source was data from interviews conducted with first year students in the same year (n=27). A data-mining approach was used to obtain information from both the coded data sources. Another different method is used in the research paper 3. In this paper, survey, investigating a range of issues related to student adjustment in the first year, was used by many public Australian universities. The questionnaires from the survey was modified and updated to explore more fully the issue of student engagement. The questionnaires were sent to a 25 percent random sample of first year commencing students. The first mail-out of questionnaires took place in mid July 2004. A second mail-out to non-respondents occurred one month later in mid August. A total of 2786 surveys (33 per cent) were returned. Of these, 2344 were useable returns. The data analysis and coding procedures used SPSS software to produce descriptive statistics and cross-tabulations. Therefore, there clearly are different approaches to conduct a research.

Results and Findings

The results and findings of the research articles are quite interesting. The results of first paper show that most at risk students who had been successfully contacted achieved higher final grades than at risk students who had not been contacted. The findings of the first paper suggest that attention to personal connections were lacking in two areas. First, students reported that not all tutors seemed to value personal connections or peer relationships in the context of tutorials. Second, in the context of course-related group work, many students reported that tutors left them more or less to themselves to make their groups work. In general, the assumption seemed to be that students had to respond to the challenges of group work by themselves without much guidance. There were few indications that students had understood that teaching materials may have learning objectives associated with group work in mind. Students seemed reluctant to point at fellow group members who did not work as hard. Overall they seemed to consider the involvement of tutors in sorting out ineffectual group work to be limited. In the paper 3, the findings show that 35 per cent of respondents admitted to thinking seriously of dropping out. This figure fell to 33 per cent in 1999 and 28 per cent in 2004. One fact in Australian universities is that more than one in four first year students seriously consider dropping out. The findings also present some factors that students consider dropping out of study. Those factors are demographic differences, finances and resources, sense of purpose, achievement and self-regulation, the role of peers, time management, perceptions of teaching, belonging in the learning community, and student satisfaction.

Discussion and Implications

Even though the three articles talk about the first year student attrition, they discuss the different aspects. Thus, they have different discussion and implications. The results of the article 1 show that at risk contacted students achieved better and persisted more than at risk not contacted students, so the discussion and implications are as follows: (1) explaining the outcomes by suggesting some speculations based on observations and anecdotal evidence gathered by author Duncan throughout the semester, such as curriculum alignment or curriculum misalignment, timeliness of calls or lack of timeliness of calls and untracked personal contact, (2) implications for curriculum design and beyond to engage students in their learning experience, (3) implications for an holistic approach to engagement, and (4) limitations and future directions. The research paper 2 also has the discussion for it findings. One discussion about the data showing that students were provided with little guidance on how to make the interaction and collaboration in the context of group work activities is that this could prepare students for group work beyond university. Another discussion comes from the findings that suggest that tutor's effectiveness in enhancing interaction between tutor and students and between students in the context of group work was variable. Some students say that not all tutors had a sufficient understanding of the importance of effective interaction. The last discussion of the second article is that to improve the experience and transition of first-year students, institutions should consider making a strategic decision to find resources to enhance students' experience of integration with their tutors and other students. The findings of the paper 3 have a lot of significant implications in higher education. The first implication aims at producing smooth educational experience for students. The second implication is that student persistence is closely related to a sense of purpose, motivation and self-regulatory behaviors and attitudes. Above all, this third study alerts practitioners and administrators to the significance of staying connected with each other and with students in the university learning environment.