On Theories Pertaining To Student Retention In The Collegiate Level Essay Example
On Theories Pertaining To Student Retention In The Collegiate Level Essay Example

On Theories Pertaining To Student Retention In The Collegiate Level Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1206 words)
  • Published: May 12, 2017
  • Type: Essay
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The issue of student retention is a long-standing one. In fact, theories abound when it comes to determining the factors that account for retention in college students. Two related articles are reviewed in this paper: Hutto’s “A Critical Review of the Literature on Student Services and Retention”, and Astin’s “Student Development: A Developmental Theory for Higher Education”, with the former serving as a critique of the latter (and other related theories for that matter). Astin is a well-known figure in the field of education.He has been credited as having formulated one of the most useful and arguably, workable theories with regard to student retention in the collegiate level.

Astin’s theory of Student Involvement is valuable in that it has contributed largely to the evolution of subsequent theories in the same field: whereas before focus was mainly on


teaching techniques and the educational institution itself, with Astin’s work examination of the students themselves likewise became important.Astin’s theory stipulates that there is a direct relation between the capacity of an educational policy to evoke student involvement and the effectiveness of the said policy. As such, any policy aimed at increasing student development and learning will prove to be useless if it does not elicit from the students a desire to be involved, where involvement means the energy he/she devotes to the “academic experience”.The focus on the students themselves became even more apparent with Astin’s assertion that the success or failure of a given theory of learning is directly affected by the involvement of students; as such they should not be seen as passive recipients (“black box” is the term used) but as active agents. Such a stand

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contradicts the traditional theories he has enumerated in his article – Subject-Matter, Resource, and Individualized / Eclectic Theory – which according to him have the inherent characteristic of viewing the students as mere receptacles of the varying teaching techniques they promote.

Hutto’s article is related to that of Astin’s in the sense that he employed the latter’s work in his review. To briefly discuss, Hutto’s paper takes a closer look at three theories that have shaped the concept of student retention: Chickering’s Psychosocial Development Theory, Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement, and Tinto’s Model of Student Departure. He has also provided an exhaustive list of works related to the three theories, particularly those that sought to test their viability.In a nutshell, Chickering’s theory is anchored on seven “vectors” or stages of development if you may. These factors have proven to be useful in capturing the experience (both academic and non-academic) of college students, and have been revised to remain true to the times: (1) developing competence, (2) managing emotions, (3) managing through autonomy toward interdependence, (4) developing mature interpersonal relationships, (5) establishing identity, (6) developing purpose, and (7) developing integrity.

Tinto’s theory focuses more on the negative end of the retention continuum.In it he distinguishes among four types of student departures: voluntary dropouts, academic failures, temporary withdrawers, and intercollegiate transfers. The theory is similar to the other two in that it also gives due attention to the student. Unlike Astin’s and Chickering’s theories, though, Tinto also looked into pre-existing factors that affect retention: (1) sex, (2) race, (3) family / financial background, (4) secondary school achievement, (5) scholastic aptitude, and (6) prior disappointments and achievements.

As one can

see, these factors are “carried” by the students upon entering college and essentially are not part of the college experience; however, these elements have been shown to greatly affect the quality of a student’s experience. Astin’s article is worth commending not only for the high degree of applicability of the theory discussed but likewise for its readability. Astin remained true to his statement that the appeal of his theory of student involvement lies in its simplicity. Given this, the chances that his theory will be used by researchers, college administrators and faculty – surely one of his aims- are high.

Aside from this, his shifting of focus from only the theories to the students themselves is a big leap that deserves to be acknowledged. I support his position that students should not be seen as “black boxes” but as an active force that can be the root cause of the success (or failure) of any particular theory of learning. As such, it is imperative that the factors affecting student involvement be looked into for us to be able to come up with a successful theory. Hutto’s critique has shown that all three theories have proven to be invaluable in shaping the current concept of student retention.Chickering provided a skeleton that is still used by researchers today; Tinto has widened the scope of the concept to include factors that have otherwise been overlooked; and Astin has paved the way for a new perspective to emerge.

Although upon reading his analysis one will find that it lacks input from Dr. Hutto himself, a consolidation of related and updated literature is more than welcome. By juxtaposing the three theories,

he has made the task of coming up with a more potent theory easier. The three theories have been proven to be workable; however, there is still much room for inquiry and improvement.To begin with, the central concept of involvement in Astin’s theory is, for me, inadequately defined.

Astin might have seen this drawback since he devoted a section of his article to possibilities in research which are as follows: (1) assessing different forms of involvement, (2) quality versus quantity, (3) role of peer groups, (4) attribution and locus of control, (5) the connection between particular forms of involvement and particular outcomes, and (6) other questions that seek to qualify the concept of involvement.It is safe to assume, upon examination of the list, that Astin finds it necessary that the core concept of his work be subjected to research in order for his theory to be more effective. With regard to Chickering’s work, in Hutto’s critique it is prescribed that the Psychosocial Development Theory be expanded to account for other influencing factors, and that the psychosocial development patterns be examined alongside the culture/s within which they operate.Perhaps this is yet another call for revision of Chickering’s work to catch up with the times: whereas before it was safe to assume given the high level of homogeneity in the composition of student populations, now there exists a need for a multi-faceted theory that can address the issues of a diverse pool of students.

Such prescriptions show that the quest for an all-encompassing theory – that is, a theory that is both sound and applicable – is far from over.On a positive light, we have come a

long way from theories that only placed a premium on a particular area of study or a particular group of people. Today, it has been established that the best mode of attack in understanding the concept of retention is – as Hutto said – to consider both the students and the academic institutions within which learning and development occurs. Although a unified theory that can serve as the framework for both researchers and academic institutions has yet to be established, the three theories discussed in length have managed to lay the groundwork for further development.

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