A new white paper published by Helix Education, a world class provider of student life cycle technologies and services, explores the way higher education has traditionally measured student retention and graduation rates, and the implication it is having on practice and policy. The white paper was written by the company’s Chief Academic Officer, Dr. Cherron Hoppes, who has spent a significant part of her career working with both public and private institutions supporting traditional undergraduates and non-traditional, working adults through degree completion.
“The bulk of the research up to now has focused on traditional first-time, full-time students, however, this group only represents 15 percent of students today and it isn’t growing nearly as fast the post-traditional (also known as non-traditional) student population,” said Dr. Hoppes. “We need to rethink the way we assess retention rates and what they really mean as we see more and more students who may not attend school in successive terms nor complete their degree at the same institution where they started their schooling. Under traditional measures, the outcomes of these post-traditional students and the institutions they attend are not adequately factored into the equation, likely skewing overall retention results and their meaning to the broader higher education community.”
Dr. Hoppes’ paper, “The New Metrics: Tracking Today’s Post-Traditional Students,” provides context for the consideration of retention and graduation rates as an indicator of institutional effectiveness and student success. Her insight and ideas are aimed at shaping a new approach to measuring these two factors, taking into account the kind of students that schools are enrolling and the kind of educational experiences that they are delivering.
Dr. Hoppes continued, “It is alarming that almost half of all students who enroll in higher education have no credential by the end of six-years. We need to go deeper and understand why. We need to be looking at external factors that make retention and graduation an important metric, the role of the institution in retaining and graduating students, and the complexities of student behavior. Only then can these measures have real meaning for everyone involved, from students, parents and educators, to employers, regulators and law makers.”
The white paper is available for free download.