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ERIC Number: EJ917026
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 10
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 4
ISSN: ISSN-0271-0579
Using Longitudinal Assessment Data to Improve Retention and Student Experiences
Trosset, Carol; Weisler, Steven
New Directions for Institutional Research, nS2 spec iss p79-88 Win 2010
The Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education presents a longitudinal analysis of how students change on a number of scales that purport to measure many of the outcomes of liberal learning over the span of a college education. The Wabash Study is designed to collect information longitudinally from students at the beginning and end of their first year of college, and then again in their senior year. The Wabash Study is designed to investigate the impact of students' college experiences inside and outside the classroom on their degree of change on a range of "outcome measures" that concern critical thinking, moral reasoning, leadership toward social justice, and interest in and engagement with diversity, among other objectives. Analyses of first-year data from the Wabash Study have begun to establish a systematic relationship between the extent to which students report experiencing good teaching practices and certain co-curricular features of their college experience and the degree to which they make progress on the study's outcome measures. Although persistence to graduation is not an explicit liberal arts outcome of the Wabash Study, it is an educational outcome of great interest to postsecondary institutions and is particularly well suited for linking to Wabash Study data. From this perspective, the central question the authors ask is, How do students' characteristics and experiences inside and outside the classroom bear on the probability that they will complete their college degree? Having input data (for example, one's ability to navigate a complex environment at the time of college matriculation), experience data (such as frequency of exposure to good teaching practices), and change in outcomes data (the difference in one's academic motivation at the end of the first year of college from the level of academic motivation at the beginning of the first year) at the individual student level makes it possible to identify predictors of student persistence and productive avenues of intervention. The research reported in this chapter investigates this question by focusing on retention data for the classes of 2010 and 2012 at Hampshire College, a progressive liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts. The authors use data gathered through the Wabash Study to try to understand the conditions that led to third-semester persistence for the class of 2010 and the significant improvement in persistence for the class of 2012. They also describe how a Retention Task Force at Hampshire used Wabash Study data to identify possible causes of attrition and prioritize a campus-wide implementation action plan designed to improve third-semester persistence. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Massachusetts