Why Are They Leaving? Understanding Retention with CIRP Data

Posted by Kevin Eagan on July 15th, 2014 in News, News Homepage, Surveys | No Comments »

We’ve been thinking quite a bit about retention at the Higher Education Research Institute this summer. We have the Retention and Persistence Institute just two weeks away (July 29-30), and we unveiled a couple of new tools in beta stage at the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) annual forum in Orlando earlier this summer. Additionally, last week’s article in Inside Higher Ed on the decline in first-year retention rates nationwide caught our attention.

The article reviewed a report released from the National Student Clearinghouse that shows first-year persistence rates (reenrollment at any institution for the second fall term) had declined 1.2 percentage points across all sectors since 2009 while the first-year retention rate (reenrollment in the second fall term at the same institution had remained virtually unchanged since 2009.

Notably, the report provides descriptive information about persistence and retention; however, the report and its associated article offer little insight about why students are not reenrolling for their second fall term – either at their native institution or at any higher education institution. Similarly, the report leaves open the question about the kinds of students who are not persisting in higher education or are not being retained at their home campuses.

These open questions prompted us at HERI to look at a few of the tools and data provided by the  Cooperative Institutional Research Program to understand better the kinds of students who are leaving higher education and the reasons for their departure.  At AIR this past May, Adriana Ruiz and I presented on a new first-year retention calculator tool that we will be including in the 2014 CIRP Freshman Survey reporting package this year. The calculator follows a similar format and line of research to the graduation rate calculator we introduced to the CIRP TFS reporting package a few years ago.

The first-year retention calculator enables campuses to estimate their expected first-year retention rate based on a set of incoming student characteristics, collected from the CIRP Freshman Survey known to predict retention. Campuses can then compare their expected rates to their actual rates to benchmark whether they are performing better (or worse) than anticipated. The most salient predictors of first-year retention in the model we built for this calculator included the extent to which students felt depressed (negative predictor), self-rated emotional health (positive predictor), having an expectation to transfer (negative predictor), and entering college with major concerns about their ability to finance their college education (negative predictor).  Notably, students who express an inclination toward transfer when taking the CIRP TFS during orientation or the first few weeks of their fall term are the ones most likely not to reenroll for the fall of their second year.

Financial aid measures (grants, parental resources positively predicted retention while relying more heavily on loans negatively predicted retention), pre-college preparation measures (higher high school GPA SAT scores and SAT scores were both positive predictors), and having chosen the particular institution based upon its cost of attendance (positive predictor) also significantly and substantively predicted whether students returned to their home institution for the fall of their sophomore year. This model was built based on more than 210,000 respondents to the 2004 CIRP Freshman Survey across 356 colleges and universities. We matched students’ TFS data with enrollment and completion data from the National Student Clearinghouse.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) Your First College Year survey has, for the last several years, included a retention module with the online version of the instrument. Although the sample size for this module tends to be small, given that most campuses opt for our paper instrument or choose to survey only those students still enrolled at the institution during the time of administration, some of the top reasons for leaving are instructive.

Among the 246 students who completed the retention module in 2011, 40.3% indicated a lack of community as being “very important” in their decision to leave. More than one-third (36.2%) noted that their financial aid package’s inadequacy was a “very important” factor in their departure decision, and 41.7% said their inability to afford college was a “very important” reason for leaving. More than 40% (40.2%) said they left in part due to their preferred major not being offered while more than one-third (35.2%) noted academic difficulties related to academic probation, suspension, or expulsion as very important reasons for leaving.

It’s clear that the reasons for leaving college are as diverse as the students who leave, but we consistently see academic and financial difficulties as key factors in students’ departure decisions. Coupled with the findings from the first-year retention calculator, it’s clear that prior preparation and financial aid/college cost will continue to have outsized roles in determining how successful campuses are in retaining students – both into the second year and through to degree completion.

HERI Poll of the Month

Posted by Kevin Eagan on July 2nd, 2014 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

You may have noticed a new feature that we added to the web site this week: the HERI Poll of the Month. We will change the question each month and post a short blog about the previous month’s results. This is one way we hope not only to connect with our CIRP representatives, affiliated scholars, fellow researchers, and other members of the community but also to learn more about the ever-growing CIRP family.

This month’s poll asks about how you prefer to survey students (web, paper, or a combination of web and paper). Please don’t be alarmed – we have no plans to do away with paper surveys. In fact, the 2015 Your First College Year survey and the 2014-15 College Senior Survey will once again have a paper option. We are in the final negotiation phase with a vendor for these surveys, and we continue to offer a paper option for the CIRP Freshman Survey as we have for the past 49 years. (Next year is our big 50th…stayed tuned for more details!)

So take a few seconds and tell participate in the poll (it’s good for survey karma), and be sure to check back in early August for the results.

CIRP Surveys and Accreditation: WSCUC (formerly WASC) Guide Updated for 2014

Posted by Ellen Stolzenberg on May 22nd, 2014 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

Accreditation remains a driving force behind survey use on college campuses. Because CIRP surveys are comprehensive and designed to be longitudinal, they cover a wide variety of outcomes related to student growth and development. CIRP survey data can be used throughout the accreditation process—to engage in institutional self-study, to inform a visit by evaluators, and to respond to a decision handed down by a regional accreditor. The CIRP Accreditation Guides are designed to facilitate using the surveys in the accreditation process.

Each institution approaches accreditation differently—taking into account its mission, goals, programs, policies, and the composition of the faculty and student bodies. One shared element, however, is to understand how the practices and data already available on campus align with accreditation standards. The CIRP Accreditation Guides demonstrate how items from all 5 CIRP surveys (TFS, YFCY, DLE, CSS, and FAC) connect to standards for each of the regional accrediting bodies. For those that are considering future survey participation, sample timelines help institutions decide when and how often to gather evidence for use in accreditation.

We are in the process of updating all of the guides to correspond to the 2014 CIRP Survey instruments and the updated regional accreditation standards. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), now known as the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), updated their accreditation standards in 2013 and the 2014 CIRP Accreditation Guide for WSCUC reflects those changes, in relation to the 2014 survey instruments.

The guides for the other accrediting bodies will be updated in the coming months. Previous versions of these guides are available now.

Higher Learning Commission-North Central Association (HLC-NCA)
Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
Southern Association of Schools and Colleges (SACS-COC)

Please visit our accreditation webpage, where we highlight examples of how institutions have used CIRP surveys in their accreditation efforts.

Come Learn in LA This Summer at One of Our Institutes

Posted by Kevin Eagan on May 6th, 2014 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

In case you needed a reason to enjoy warm, sunny Southern California this summer, HERI will again be offering four two-day institutes throughout July and August. These workshops provide opportunities for researchers and practitioners to connect on issues related to diversity research, retention and persistence, innovation in undergraduate STEM education, and faculty teaching and learning. All four institutes will be held at UCLA in Westwood.

The Diversity Research Institute (DRI) will be held July 15-16, and we are excited that guest speakers Adriana Kezar and Rona Halualani will again join HERI Director Sylvia Hurtado to discuss issues of campus climate, diversity program mapping, and institutional transformation. The DRI is perfect for teams of administrators and faculty seeking best practices to assess and improve the climate for diversity on their campuses.

The Retention and Persistence Institute (RPI) will occur July 29-30. HERI Director Sylvia Hurtado and CIRP Interim Director Kevin Eagan will facilitate this workshop focused on the latest in retention and persistence research. Participants will learn how to use HERI’s popular retention calculator while also be among the first to see two new retention calculators that HERI will unveil this summer. Participants will engage in an interactive series of discussions about best practices on campus related to retaining students from diverse backgrounds, and everyone will leave with a campus-specific plan to improve retention and persistence at their institution.

The STEM Summer Institute (SSI) is our newest offering and will feature research from a 10-year study at HERI focused on undergraduate student pathways into and through STEM programs. The SSI will be held August 5-6. We encourage teams of faculty and administrators interested in transforming undergraduate STEM education on their campuses to attend this intensive two-day workshop. In addition to presentations by Drs. Hurtado and Eagan, participants will hear from experts in assessment and institutional research to highlight what can be learned from survey and administrative data. Additionally, we will have representatives from funding agencies provide their perspectives with regard to where funding for STEM educational research is heading.

Finally, we are excited to bring back the HERI Institute on Faculty Work/Life Issues, which will be offered August 12-13. After a successful launch of this workshop last summer, we have decided to extend it to be two full days. Drs. Hurtado and Eagan will again lead the workshop and offer insights from research on faculty pedagogy, stress, retention, and retirement. This year’s workshop will also feature hands-on analysis of the soon-to-be-completed 2014 HERI Faculty Survey. Participants will learn from one another regarding best practices to engage faculty in development opportunities and receive instruction on analyzing HERI Faculty Survey data. We invite researchers interested in faculty issues and administrators seeking strategies to increase faculty engagement on campus to attend.

In addition to these exciting programs, participants will have access to all that the beautiful, diverse city of Los Angeles has to offer. We hope you will consider joining us this summer to learn and network.

First Year Students at a Glance Infographic for TFS 2013

Posted by Kevin Eagan on April 9th, 2014 in News, News Homepage, Surveys | Comments Off

This entry is posted on behalf of Melissa Aragon.

2013 Freshman Survey InfographicWe are excited to highlight a new way we are helping CIRP Freshman Survey participating institutions show off their results. We are in the second year of our CIRP Freshman Survey infographic, and this time we are releasing an infographic highlighting some of the national data and providing a customizable version of the infographic for campuses to add their local findings.  This customizable version of the infographic poster enables institutions to report their own results next to the national statistics to easily compare the two figures.  In order to make this process a bit smoother, we also created a codebook to aid institutions in identifying the survey items reflected in the infographic. Please visit our infographic webpage.

Explore our “First Year Students at a Glance” infographic highlighting some of the findings from the 2013 CIRP Freshman Survey in an interesting display of icons and data.  From a longitudinal look at the increasing number of college applications students are submitting to their use of technology and insight on their political viewpoints, the infographic poster provides a visually engaging perspective of the 2013 freshman class.

We have received great feedback about our infographic posters, and we plan to continue to provide this informative tool to share our survey results. Look for more infographics in the near future featuring our HERI Faculty Survey and our student follow-up surveys, including the Your First College Year survey, the College Senior Survey and the Diverse Learning Environments survey. All five of our 2014 surveys are currently open for administration and registration.

We hope you find the infographic useful in stimulating discussions on campus about your TFS results.

AERA April 4-7, 2014 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Posted by Silvio Vallejos on April 3rd, 2014 in Conferences | Comments Off

HERI Presentations at the 2014 AERA Conference

HERI Presentations at the 2014 AERA Conference

Posted by Kevin Eagan on April 3rd, 2014 in Conferences, News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The 2014 AERA annual conference has begun, and HERI is excited to announce that 12 papers at the conference will present findings from analyses of CIRP data. Five of these studies are being presented by HERI staff members or affiliated scholars; the remaining seven studies have been conducted by researchers who were granted access to data through HERI’s data access process.

These presentations cover a diverse set of topics ranging from underrepresented minority students’ enrollment in STEM majors to Latina/o student empowerment at Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs), emerging HSIs, and non-HSIs to career plans of prospective engineers.

A few of the highlights include:

HERI Interim Managing Director Dr. Kevin Eagan presents, with his co-author Hannah Whang, a study using  2010-11 HERI Faculty Survey data of the individual experiences and institutional contexts influencing faculty’s intentions to remain at their current institution versus leaving for a job outside of academe or pursuing an academic position at another college or university. (Saturday, April 5, 2:45-4:15 p.m.)

HERI Director Dr. Sylvia Hurtado presents, with her team, a study on improving underrepresented minority students’ enrollment in STEM graduate programs by participation in structured undergraduate research programs and conducting research with faculty outside of structured programs. This study uses longitudinal data from the CIRP Freshman Survey and her team’s Post-Baccalaureate Survey. (Sunday, April 6, 2:15-3:45 p.m.)

HERI Director Dr. Sylvia Hurtado presents, with her co-author Adriana Ruiz Alvarado, a study on student and institutional characteristics associated with six-year degree completion for underrepresented minority students, disaggregating American Indian, Black, and Latina/o students in order to uniquely understand each group. (Monday, April 7, 12:25-1:55 p.m.).

UCLA Higher Education and Organizational Change graduate student Shuai Li presents a study on students’ development of political aspirations, and the study uses categories of race/ethnicity to understand how the salience of particular college experiences differs across student groups. She analyzes data from the CIRP Freshman Survey and the College Senior Survey. (Monday, April 7, 10:35-12:05).

Click here for a full list of papers presenting findings from analyses of CIRP data.


Tools ‹ HERI BLOG — WordPress

Posted by Lesley McBain on March 31st, 2014 in News | Comments Off

Tools ‹ HERI BLOG — WordPress.

Register Now for the 2014 Diverse Learning Environments Survey

We have opened registration for the 2014 Diverse Learning Environments (DLE) survey. The DLE is CIRP’s newest survey, and it captures student perceptions regarding the institutional climate, campus practices as experienced with faculty, staff, and peers, and student learning outcomes.

As we launch another DLE administration, we would like to let you know about some changes we made to the 2014 survey as well as provide some reminders for both participating institutions and those considering administering the DLE for the first time.

As a reminder, the DLE is a web-based survey that allows you maximum flexibility to set up customized email notifications and reminders as well as customized “welcome” and “thank you” pages. Alternately, HERI can manage email notifications to students for you.

In order to obtain more information about your individual campus population, you can upload 30 closed-ended additional questions and five open-ended additional questions. You can also add up to five different modules – for example, ones on classroom climate and intergroup relations – to your survey. For more information on additional questions, please see here. For a listing of additional modules and more information about them, please see here .

In terms of changes to the survey, we have added more response choices for reasons respondents decided to take courses at another institution. In addition, we have added “Lesbian” and “Queer” as answer choices in the sexual orientation question and changed “LBGT Center” to “LGBTQ Center,” as well as changed “Heterosexual” and “Homosexual” in the sexual orientation question to “Heterosexual/Straight” and “Gay.”

We have also revised/expanded the question about whether students have stopped taking courses for more than one year. Finally, we have changed response categories for how students rate themselves on selected traits compared to the average person their age to “A Major Strength, Somewhat Strong, Average, Somewhat Weak, A Major Weakness.”

If you have questions or need more information on these changes, please feel free to contact HERI at heri@ucla.edu or (310) 825-1925. We thank you for your participation and look forward to assisting you through this DLE cycle.

Registration for the 2014 College Senior Survey Is Now Open

Posted by Jen Berdan on March 25th, 2014 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

The 2014 College Senior Survey (CSS) is now open for registration and administration! Similar to this year’s YFCY survey, the 2014 CSS is web-only. Please note again that this is a temporary change and we welcome and encourage our participating colleges and universities to take advantage of the CSS this year especially since we have cut our processing and email fees. Processing fees for the 2014 CSS are now only $1 per survey! Plus the option to have HERI manage emails is $150, down from $375.

One of the advantages of the web-only CSS is customization – institutions can customize the survey to their specific needs. This includes not only welcome and thank you pages but the survey instrument itself. Participating colleges can get feedback on specific topics and issues from their students by adding up to thirty multiple-choice questions and up to five open-ended questions.

Our CIRP surveys are designed to be longitudinal so that colleges and universities can track their students’ growth and change over time. With that in mind there are a couple of changes we have made to the 2014 CSS. In an effort to connect more items across the surveys we have added two items from the YFCY survey that ask students to rate their ability to conduct research and to work as part of a team.

We have also changed the veteran status question to be consistent with the 2010 Freshman Survey. This change is intended to more accurately capture military status by increasing response options from yes or no, to include: None; ROTC, cadet, or midshipman at a service academy; In Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard; and A discharged veteran not serving in Active Duty, Reserves, or National Guard.

The CSS can be a powerful tool to measure the impact of college, especially when used as a follow-up to the Freshman Survey, the Your First College Year Survey, and the Diverse Learning Environments Survey. But it is also useful to measure satisfaction with various aspects of college, including services. As students focus on employment near graduation, we added an item asking about their satisfaction with their institution’s career-related resources and support.

For a copy of the 2014 CSS instrument and the full list of the changes please click here.

If you have questions about the survey revisions – whether about the web-only administration or about survey instrument content – please feel free to contact us at css@ucla.edu or 310-825-7079. The CSS will remain open for administration through June 27, 2014.


Registration for the 2014 Your First College Year Survey Is Now Open

Posted by Abbie Bates on March 13th, 2014 in News, News Homepage | Comments Off

We are excited to announce that registration for the 2014 Your First College Year (YFCY) survey is now open for registration and administration. As we have previously discussed, the 2014 YFCY will include a web-only administration. This temporary change was necessary in order for us to continue to provide this instrument to our participating campuses this year. One of the benefits of the web-only administration is the retention module aimed at providing schools with information to help their retention rates. Institutions can take advantage of this web-only component, which asks first-year students who no longer attend their institution a set of questions about why they decided to leave and their plans for the future.

The YFCY is an excellent tool to understand the kinds of experiences first-year students engage in, as these experiences can be important to understanding students’ development during their first year of college and can predict student persistence. We are developing a first-year retention calculator (much like our degree completion calculator that is now a standard part of our TFS reporting) that will connect YFCY survey items to students’ persistence into the second year and eventual degree completion. We plan to unveil this new tool at the 2014 Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research.

If you have been considering participating in CIRP’s YFCY survey, 2014 is the year to do it. We have dramatically cut our processing fees ($1 per survey in 2014, down from $3.25) and our HERI-managed email option ($150, down from $375). Additionally, we are pleased to offer campuses the opportunity to incorporate up to 30 closed-ended questions and five open-ended questions as an optional feature with the survey.

As always, we review the survey instrument and make some changes year to year in order to better capture information on today’s student populations. We have replaced a triple-barreled question in the retention model that asked about whether students left due to not feeling welcome because of their race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or gender; now, we ask about each of these attributes as separate items. This year we also have added new questions about students’ career path, asking respondents about the importance of beginning to think about their careers as freshmen and whether they have clearly identified a path toward achieving their career goals.

We also have brought the pluralistic orientation items (e.g., tolerance of others, openness to having my ideas challenged) in line with how we asked them on the CIRP Freshman Survey. We no longer ask students to rate these five abilities compared against the average person their age.

If you have questions about the survey revisions – whether about the web-only administration or about survey questionnaire content – please feel free to contact us at yfcy@ucla.edu or 310-825-7079. YFCY will remain open for administration through June 13, 2014.