Retention of freshmen students at Iona College: A multi-method investigation

Michael McGrath, Fordham University

Abstract

This study used quantitative and qualitative research methods to explore the predictors of attrition among freshmen who withdrew, and to examine the assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions held by administrators and faculty.^ Descriptive statistics were computed for various factors and for the College Student Inventory (CSI). A preliminary analysis was conducted to reduce the number of variables for the analysis. The variables that were significant were entered into a stepwise multiple regression model.^ One reason freshmen remained appeared to be that they were academically prepared. Another reason appeared to be that they were not facing financial difficulties. However, when the variables were analyzed through a regression model, the first semester grade point average was the only predictor.^ To examine the assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions held by administrators and faculty, a process of qualitative data analysis known as triangulation was utilized. Data were collected by interviewing, by observing, and by reviewing documents.^ Results of the qualitative data indicate that administrator and faculty perceptions of why freshmen leave were consistent. However, there were a few differences in the assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions of administrators and faculty. One explanation for these differences may lie in the fact that administrators and faculty have two different perceptual lenses, constructing their own reality and forming their impressions, expectations, and meanings from their experiences. They see things differently because they are trained differently and work with freshmen in different ways. Therefore, they did not always agree on the retention effectiveness of various interventions. However, they understood that the issues were sometimes ambiguous, frequently interrelated, and always complex.^ The analyses indicate that the administrators and faculty need to develop a better understanding of the students who withdraw. They need to identify and question their own assumptions, beliefs, and perceptions about the students who depart so their institutions can better deal with the problems of attrition. Since the first semester grade point average was the only significant predictor of retention, administrators and faculty need to develop a better understanding of the students' development during the first semester of enrollment. Most importantly, the issues related to attrition should be addressed by all people working in the higher educational community. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Recommended Citation

Michael McGrath, "Retention of freshmen students at Iona College: A multi-method investigation" (January 1, 1996). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI9631044.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI9631044

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