In the Student Retention Research: A History Lesson I discussed the role that Mantz Yorke and Bernard Longden played in developing the field of understanding student persistence in the UK. I really value their model explaining student withdrawal (partly because they use the word ‘adventitious’). They suggest that the reasons for withdrawal can be categorised into four groups: “flawed decision making about entering the programme, students’ expectations of the programme and the institution generally, failure to cope with the demand of the programme and events that impact on students’ lives outside the classroom.” (Yorke & Longden, 2004, pg. 104). They argue that student withdrawal is due to the interplay between the broader society, institutional context and the psychology of the individual, withdrawal occurs due to adventitious events (pg. 85). Their model is deliberately loose as they “remain unconvinced that a single theoretical formulation – a ‘grand theory’ – can be constructed to include all the possible influences …”.
Even though the HE sector has changed significantly over the intervening years, I strongly feel that there are still useful lessons to be mined from their publications in the 2000s. Advance HE appears to have got a lot better at archiving their old reports recently, but who knows next time there is a restructure.
I’ve therefore uploaded one of their reports. It’s based on two first year surveys, the first was conducted with first year students from 23 institutions conducted during the second term (7109 responses). The second survey was amongst students who had not re-enrolled into their second year (462 responses). The report is interesting in lots of ways and re-emphasises the importance of the academic experience as a reason to consider leaving.
Yorke, Mantz, and Bernard Longden, eds. 2004. Retention & student success in higher education. Bodmin: Open University Press.