ERG SES C 04, Interactive Poster Session
This study projects a systematic review on higher education voluntary or involuntary exclusion or dropout, analyses dropout from different theoretical perspectives, sheds light on dropout in Catalonia, explores multiple policies to prevent it, and inspects the relation between dropout and diversity management.
The general targets of this study are to identify the most frequent antecedents of student’s exclusion from higher education programs, to prove that the examination of dropout is an essential step in the process of reforming or updating the higher education institutions, to highlight the importance of dropout rates as performance indicators, and to come up with some innovative inclusion strategies to decrease dropout. The specific objectives of this study are to investigate the dropout phenomenon in the faculty of Education in Catalan public universities, to explore the process of managing dropout cases, to study the communication procedure in the faculty, and to analyse and update the used retention strategies that can lead to students’ inclusion.
Chen (n.d.) categorizes the theories analyzing the reasons of dropout in five; psychological related to individual features, sociological and economic caused by exterior reasons, organizational affected by institutions, and interactionalist combining both individual and environmental elements. The psychological factors include the attitude- behavior theory, the coping behavioral approach theory, the self-efficacy theory, and the attribution theory (Bean & Eaton, 2001; Kuh., Kinzie, Buckley, Bridges, & Hayek, 2006).The sociological were discussed in the conflict theory by Clark (1960), the social reproduction theory by Bourdieu (1973, 1977), and the social attainment theory (as cited in Chen, n.d.).Organizational factors were tackled in the causal model of student attrition by Bean (1980, 1983) and model of turnover by Price (1977) (as cited in Chen, n.d.). As for the interactionalist, the beginning was with Durkheim (1951) suicide model, and the peak with Tinto’s (1992, 1993) attrition model (as cited in Chen, n.d.). Finally, two main theories discussed the economic factors; the human capital theory of Becker (1964), Schultz/Nelson-Phelps (1966, 1967), Bowles-Gintis (1976) and Gardner (1983), and Radner and Miller’s (1975) demand theory (as cited in Chen, n.d.).
In order to decrease dropout, most researchers stressed on the importance of creating an early prediction tool that recognizes students at risk and offer them support (Tinto, 2004; Rodríguez-Gómez, Feixas, Gairín, & Muñoz, 2012, 2015; Hasbun, Araya, & Villalon, 2016). The study found that the general dropout predictors ( (Kuh et al., 2006; Zajacova, Lynch, & Espenshade , 2005; Ascend Learning, LCC, 2012; Christenson, Reschly, & Wylie, 2012; Sallán, Y Avila, & Villegas, 2014; Gentry, 2014; Hasbun et al., 2016) which are valuable when creating such a tool can be distributed in the Four Layers Model of the “Dimension of Diversity” wheel by Gardenswartz & Rowe (2008) to which the study adds an additional layer named academic dimension; which proves that managing diversity is crucial when tackling higher education dropout.
In order to deal with dropout, several retention strategies that offered financial assistance (Chen, n.d.; European Commission, 2015), psychological assistance (Bean et al., 2001; Tinto, 2004; Kuh et al., 2006; Christenson et al., 2012; Gentry, 2014, European Commission, 2015), and organizational assistance (Kuh et al., 2006; Ascend Learning, LLC, 2012, Gentry, 2014, European Commission, 2015) were already implemented.
Although many retention practices were implemented by Catalan public universities, they never had a long-lasting effect (Rodríguez-Gómez et al., 2012, 2015; Rodríguez-Gómez, Meneses, Gairín, Feixas, & Muñoz-Moreno, 2016) from which the importance of this study.
The study investigates dropout in the four programs of the Faculty of Education in two Spanish public universities, Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (UAB) and Universitat de Barcelona (UB). Numerous techniques are used to collect data and organize it. First of all, the database of the UAB was collected and analysed quantitatively. This database includes the new students registered in the programs between years 2009 and 2017, a comparison between the data of two consecutive courses in 2017-2018, and the rates of students dropping out between years 2010-2016. Afterwards, interviews with deans, vice-deans, and coordinators of programs were carried out in the purpose of identifying the antecedents of dropout from the administration perspective and discussing used retention solutions. Based on the common features between the 10 recorded interviews (UAB: 7-UB: 3), the study has found that students drop out mostly due to the lack of orientation at the entrance level which leads to a mismatch between the students’ expectations and the offered objectives, the academic failure due to the students’ unreadiness to start university, and the socio-economic situations. Moreover, the lack of academic records for new students, the inexistence of a planned strategy to follow the students’ trajectory, and the communication policies set to protect the students’ personal data or problems, are all common limitations when dealing with dropout. Regarding retention strategies, on the faculty level, no faculty has put in practice a specific retention program, but both have a clear process for receiving and dealing with complaints; however, many interviewees did not see dropout rates as very concerning. As on the university level, several general programs were implemented to help students with difficulties, and specialized departments were set to deal with their problems; nevertheless, the results in decreasing dropout rates are still not very satisfactory. Also, anonymous online and offline surveys were prepared in the purpose of exploring the students’ perspectives, and as a further step, the study intends to carry out individual interviews with previous droppers, at risk students and focus groups. Through qualitative analysis, the study intents to make its own version of the “Dimension of Diversity” (Gardenswartz & Rowe, 2008) wheel in the purpose of showing the relationship between the antecedents of dropout and the aspects of diversity. Both analyses will be combined to produce consistent data that is suitable to generalizing the cause-and-effects relationships of dropout in Catalonia and to coming up with innovative prevention measures.
This research expects to have a clear overview on dropout in Catalan universities including an in-depth analysis of its determinants and their direct and indirect influence on students’ academic success. Additionally, this paper intends to clarify the link between students’ dropout and academic reform, dropout rates and institutional performance including diversity management, organized communication and well-planned solutions, in addition to consistent tools and long term positive results. Moreover, the main intention of this study is to come up with an early warning system to help identifying the students at-risk and creating some practical retention solutions to prevent them from dropping out. The anticipated retention solutions presented in this study to prevent university dropout focus on both faculties and students. The study believes that the faculties have to create an organized and clear communication strategy that relates all faculty members and help in transferring the information successfully, and have to work on updating and modernizing the orientation programs, professional staff, and teaching methods in the purpose of creating a more helpful and friendlier environment for students. On the students’ level, the study suggests the integration of a new department that can manage the communication between students and staff and has a representative in each faculty to help identifying early the critical cases based on the higher education “Dimension of Diversity” wheel in order to offer them the support they need. The limitations of these solutions can be either financial for some universities might not have the means to support such a department or academic for the educational body will not always have time to corporate.
Ascend Learning, LLC. (2012). Student attrition: Consequences, contributing factors, and remedies. Bean, J., & Eaton, S. B. (2001). The Psychology Underlying Successful Retention Practices. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice,3(1), 73-89. doi:10.2190/6r55-4b30-28xg-l8u0 Chen, R. (n.d.). Financial Aid and Student Dropout in Higher Education: A Heterogeneous Research Approach. Handbook of Theory and Research Higher Education, 209-239. doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6959-8_7 Christenson, S. L., Reschly, A. L., & Wylie, C. (2012). Handbook of research on student engagement. New York: Springer. Commission, E. (n.d.). Background Information for the Informal European Council, 11 February 2010 (Rep.). Retrieved December 29, 2016. Commission, E. (2015). Dropout and Completion in Higher Education in Europe (Rep.). David Rodríguez-Gómez, Mònica Feixas, Joaquín Gairín & José Luís Muñoz (2015) Understanding Catalan university dropout from a cross-national approach, Studies in Higher Education, 40:4, 690-703, DOI: 10.1080/03075079.2013.842966 Gentry, R. (2014). Sustaining college students’ persistence and achievement through exemplary instructional strategies. Research in Higher Education Journal ,24. Gardenswartz, L., & Rowe, A. (2008). Diverse teams at work: capitalizing on the power of diversity. Alexandria, VA: Society for Human Resource Management. Hasbun, T., Araya, A., & Villalon, J. (2016). Extracurricular Activities as Dropout Prediction Factors in Higher Education Using Decision Trees. 2016 IEEE 16th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT). doi:10.1109/icalt.2016.66 Kuh, G. D., Kinzie, J., Buckley, J. A., Bridges, B. K., & Hayek, J. C. (2006). What matters to student success: a review of the literature. Place of publication not identified: National Postsecondary Education Cooperative. Rodríguez-Gómez, D., Feixas, M., Gairín, J., & Muñoz, J. L. (2012). Understanding Catalan University Dropout from a Comparative Approach. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46, 1424-1429. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.05.314 Rodríguez-Gómez, D., Meneses J., Gairín J., Feixas M., & Muñoz-Moreno J. L. (2016). They have gone, and now what? Understanding re-enrolment patterns in the Catalan public higher education system. Higher Education Research & Development. 35(4), 815-828 Sallán, J. G., Y Avila, G. P., & Villegas, A. B. (2014). Universidad y colectivos vulnerables: reflexiones y experiencias. México D.F.: Ediciones del Lirio Tinto, V. (Writer). (2004).Taking Student Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College. Live performance in Syracuse University - Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education , New York. Zajacova, A., Lynch, S. M., & Espenshade, T. J. (2005). Self-Efficacy, Stress, and Academic Success in College. Research in Higher Education,46(6), 677-706. doi:10.1007/s11162-004-4139-z
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