The Successful Retention of First Year Students

By William Magrath.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As part of a $100,000 three year grant from the Lumina foundation I addressed the problem of student retention in a large lecture style class on world mythology.
First year student success in our large lecture class, meeting one night a week, improved dramatically after “interventions” were put in place. These strategies were matched to the predicted student needs and amounted to an additional hour of instructor’s time per week.
First year student A’s more than doubled from 13% to 29% and students’ F’s dropped from 23% to 6%. In addition the overall first year student’s average moved from 1.9 (1999-2002) to 2.4 (2003-2005) for the participating students. The study involved analysis of the behaviors and performances of roughly 250 students (150 for ’99-’02 and 105 for ’03-’05.)
First year students in 2006, without interventions, scored as follows: 38 completed the course with 1.97 average. 18% A, 26% B, 13% C, 18% D, 24% F. In short, student scores reverted to the ‘99-02 pattern.

Keywords: First Year Student, Retention, Large Lecture Format

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp.51-56. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 873.388KB).

Dr. William Magrath

Professor of Classics, Department of Modern Languages and Classics, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana, USA

Thirty plus years of teaching the Classics at the University of Pittsburgh, Vassar College and Ball State University after receiving the doctorate from Stanford University as a Danforth Fellow. Winner of several undergraduate teaching excellence awards and past holder of NEH grants in teaching (at Harvard and University of Arizona.) Specialization in mythology. Early adopter of the use of technology in teaching, supporter by multiple teaching grants. Heavily involved in assessment of learning studies over the last decade.


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