“Minimizing Attrition: Strategies for Assisting Students who are Considering Withdrawal”
Park, Caroline L.
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This presentation focuses on strategies to assist online graduate students who are considering withdrawing from their programs of study. It is based on research on factors influencing students’ decisions to withdraw (Perry et al., 2008) and assumptions held in relation to persistence and attrition rates (Park et al., 2007). Perry et al. found personal reasons (often related to life or work commitments) and program reasons (usually related to learning style and fit with career) caused students to consider withdrawal. With a better understanding of these factors and more precise definitions of attrition and persistence it became possible to develop strategies to enhance persistence rates. Strategies presented relate to course design, course delivery, and program organization and are aimed at reducing attrition rates to maximize use of resources. Also reviewed are strategies to ease the re-integration of students who have withdrawn and subsequently return to their programs. Rovai’s (2002) Composite Persistence Model is used as a framework for analysis and for generation of recommended strategies. Although the foundational research focused on the Athabasca University’s Centre for Nursing and Health Studies online graduate program, strategies that were drawn from this research should inform leaders of both online and traditional graduate programs.