Date of Award

12-2008

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

Abstract

The withdrawal rate in higher education, student attrition, is an increasing area of concern and challenge for institutions at the collegiate level. There are more students who leave before their degree is finished than those who stay. Research highlights multiple factors that lead to attrition and different strategies to address the dilemma. While it is difficult to pinpoint a particular reason why attrition continues to be such a persistent problem, the factors that lead to it can be differentiated into six categories: demographic characteristics, institutional factors, student-level factors, factors beyond institutional or student control, student-institution compatibility, and extraneous factors. This research project focuses on the latest information and research about the impact of demographic characteristics on retention and attrition within higher education. It also suggests the methods by which a secondary school can use that information to develop a retention promoting, attrition-preventing action plan. The scarcity of information about the relationship between the secondary school and degree attainment or graduation rate in higher education was discovered during the month’s long research phase of the project. In order to create congruence between the goals and objectives of the research project and the development of a concise plan that secondary schools could implement, a focused choice of category for attrition-related factors was made, that of demographic characteristics. (Demographic characteristics was chosen as it was determined that the majority of secondary schools would find relative ease in collecting the respective student data.)

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