Towards TowardsaaConceptual ConceptualModel Modelof ofRetention Retention and andSuccess

Towards TowardsaaConceptual ConceptualModel Modelof ofRetention Retention and andSuccess

Towards TowardsaaConceptual ConceptualModel Modelof ofRetention Retention and andSuccess SuccessininDistance DistanceEducation: Education: The TheCase Caseof ofthe theUniversity Universityof ofSouth SouthAfrica Africa Presented at the SAAIR Annual Forum Presented Port at the SAAIR Annual Forum Elizabeth, 21 September, 2009 Port Elizabeth, 21 September, 2009 Prof George Subotzky Prof George Subotzky Executive Director: Information & Strategic Analysis Executive Director: Information & Strategic Analysis University of South Africa University of South Africa Overview Overview

Background & Context Appropriate Measurement and Quantification of the Retention and Success Challenge at Unisa Towards a (unique?) Conceptual Model for Distance Education Retention and Success Introduction Introduction Retention and Success: key challenge for IR in relation to conference theme closing the loop between: Evidence & Practice Theory & Practice Organizational Learning & Transformation Background Retention and Success a major focus of concern worldwide and, consequently, of IR internationally A particular challenge at Unisa, given its institutional character as a distance education mega-university in the developing country, new democracy context of South Africa Strong external imperative to improve retention and success rates from government outcomes-based funding and enrolment planning framework Strong internal imperative: key focus in all institutional policy and planning documents 2015 Strategic Plan Recent Institutional Operational Plan Reviews Recent QA Audit Reports: 3 cohort case studies conducted Coordinated initiative through Throughput Forum as part of ODL development ODL preferred business model for Unisa Through blended learning and innovative application of technology, this focuses on

bridging various kinds of distances between: Student and institution (counseling, academic & administrative services) Student and study materials (learner support) Student and other students (social networks & community of scholarship) Therefore, engagement central to ODL model University of South Africa: Quantifying the Retention & Success Challenge Key concerns Appropriate measurement & benchmarks for success in DE Context Part of bigger concern for regulatory environment to accommodate the characteristics & dynamics of DE Measuring Retention & Success Two key elements: Graduation rate: volume-based measure of efficiency Time to completion: time-based measure of efficiency Retention: 1-year rates universal measure Benchmarking Time to Completion Two key characteristics of DE pertinent here Underpreparedness (majority phenomenon)

Difficult to factor in accurately Tinto (2008): uses time and a half benchmark in relation to study on low-income students in the US Predominantly part-time study load Average FTE:headcount ratio around 0.5 Signals that on average Unisa students carry half a course load Central claim: Expected minimum time to completion should be around double minimum time of qualification Together: 3-year UG qualification = 7.5 years?? South African Graduation, Dropout & Inprocess Rates by Institutional Type, 2000 Cohort Institutional Type Universities (excluding Unisa) Unisa All universities Technikons (excluding TSA) Technikon SA All technikons All institutions Graduated within 5 years Still registered after 5 years Left without graduating 50%

14% 38% 12% 27% 17% 38% 59% 45% 32% 2% 23% 30% 10% 12% 11% 14% 58% 85% 66% 56% Source: (Scott, et al, 2007) Unisa Cohort Dropout Rates, 2001-7 Cohort N Y2 Y3 Y4

Y5 Y6 Y7 Y8 2001 44,551 37.7% 54.8% 60.9% 62.4% 63.5% 64.4% 65.0% 2002 46,216 47.5% 61.9% 65.1% 66.9% 68.4% 69.6% 2003 41,190 51.6% 59.3% 63.6% 66.6% 69.0% 2004 43,191 38.5% 49.8% 56.8% 61.4% 2005 43,428 36.6% 51.5% 60.3% 2006 51,478 44.2% 59.7% 2007 60,456 44.4% Calculating expected minimum time ito study load Course load indicated by FTE: headcount ratio Expected minimum time = minimum time X 1 FTE: headcount ratio For example, for one of the three case studies, namely the 2007 B Com cohort, the calculation is as follows. This 3-year qualification had a FTE: headcount ratio of ,456 Expected minimum time = 3 years X 1 ,456 = 6,6 years Case studies: Sample Cohorts in 3 UG qualifications 3 largest qualifications within the main

undergraduate degree qualification types chosen as follows: General 1st Bachelors Degree (minimum duration 3 years): B Com Professional 1st Bachelors Degree (minimum duration 3 years): B Compt Professional 1st Bachelors Degree (minimum duration 4 years or longer): LLB 1st Case: B Com Graduation, Attrition & Retention Rates Enterin Cohort g Year Studen ts Graduates No Dropouts/Transfers % Average Time (Years) No % Average Time (Years)

In process No 1998 8 602 1 226 14,3% 5,77 6 499 75,6% 2,48 877 1999 8 265 1 076 13,0% 5,43 6 088 73,7% 2,45

1 101 2000 9 297 1 020 11,0% 5,03 6 739 72,5% 2,38 1 538 1 015 8,8% 4,88 8 486 73,5% 2,28 2 047 894 6,8%

4,44 9 431 71,7% 2,10 2 832 583 4,1% 4,14 10 131 70,8% 1,83 3 601 341 2,4% 3,50 9 355 65,9% 1,60 4 506

114 0,7% 2,82 8 932 57,7% 1,35 6 448 18 0,1% 1,83 6 745 42,1% 1,00 9 267 1 0,0% 1,00 2001 2002 2003

2004 2005 2006 2007 11 548 13 157 14 315 14 202 15 494 16 030 18 18 % 10,2 % 13,3 % 16,5 % 17,7 % 21,5 % 25,2 % 31,7 % 41,6 %

57,8 % 100,0 Averag e Time (Years) 7,39 7,09 6,23 5,80 5,17 4,39 3,68 2,89 2,00 1,00 B Compt: Graduation, Attrition & Retention Rates Graduates Number Cohort of Year Entering Students No Dropouts/Transfers % Average Time (Years)

No % Average Time (Years) In process No % Avera ge Time (Year s) 1998 3 430 1 008 29,4% 4,91 2 040 59,5% 2,90 382

11,1% 8,32 1999 3 205 881 27,5% 4,92 1 851 57,8% 2,80 473 14,8% 7,72 2000 3 593 831 23,1% 4,83 2 049 57,0% 2,70

713 19,8% 6,79 2001 4 035 717 17,8% 4,67 2 447 60,6% 2,50 871 21,6% 6,21 2002 3 931 588 15,0% 4,34 2 415 61,4%

2,22 928 23,6% 5,38 2003 4 351 486 11,2% 3,94 2 581 59,3% 1,91 1 284 29,5% 4,55 2004 4 364 298 6,8% 3,45 2 358

54,0% 1,66 1 708 39,1% 3,78 2005 4 873 127 2,6% 2,83 2 137 43,9% 1,37 2 609 53,5% 2,92 2006 5 167 23 0,4% 1,96

1 656 32,0% 1,00 3 488 67,5% 2,00 2007 6 519 6 519 100,0% 1,00 Number of Cohort Enterin Year g Student s LLB: Graduation, Attrition & Retention Rates Graduates Dropouts/Transfers No %

Averag e Time (Years) No % Averag e Time (Years) In process No 1998 5 150 1 293 25,1% 3,95 3 378 65.59% 2,46 479 1999 3 125

577 18,5% 4,24 2 184 69.89% 2,44 364 2000 3 622 470 13,0% 4,68 2 538 70.07% 2,47 614 2001 3 938 370

9,4% 4,55 2 888 73.34% 2,25 680 2002 4 248 312 7,3% 4,31 3 014 70.95% 2,08 922 2003 4 612 224 4,9%

3,89 3 155 68.41% 1,84 1 233 2004 5 031 150 3,0% 3,13 3 180 63.21% 1,62 1 701 2005 5 247 31 0,6% 2,48

2 893 55.14% 1,37 2 323 2006 4 700 2 0,0% 2,00 1 988 42.30% 1,00 2 710 2007 5 305 1 0,0% 1,00 5 304

% 9.30% 11.65% 16.95% 17.27% 21.70% 26.73% 33.81% 44.27% 57.66% Avera ge Time (Years ) 7,39 7,03 6,07 5,79 5,26 4,52 3,74 2,90 2,00 1,00 B Com: Time to completion by year 3.0% 2.5% 2.0% 1.5% 1.0% 0.5% 0.0%

1 2 3 1998 4 1999 5 2000 6 7 2001 8 2002 9 10 B Compt: Time to completion by year 7.0% 6.0% 5.0% 4.0% 3.0% 2.0% 1.0% 0.0% 1 2

3 1998 4 1999 5 2000 6 7 2001 8 2002 9 10 LLB: Time to completion by year 35.0% 30.0% 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 1 2 3 1998

4 1999 5 2000 6 7 2001 8 2002 9 10 B Com: % entering students dropping out by year 35.0% 30.0% 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 1 2 3 1998 4 1999

5 2000 6 2001 7 2002 8 9 B Compt: % entering students dropping out by year 25.0% 20.0% 15.0% 10.0% 5.0% 0.0% 1 2 3 1998 4 1999 5 2000 6 2001

7 2002 8 9 LLB: Proportion of Entering Students Stopping Out By Year 12.0% 10.0% 8.0% 6.0% 4.0% 2.0% 0.0% 1 2 3 4 1998 1999 2000 5 2001 6 2002 7

8 Conclusion Conclusion Main Challenge: Reducing dropout as principal focus to improve retention and success Time to completion satisfactory Time to dropout and stopout indicate risk moments to be addressed through appropriate interventions University of South Africa: Towards a DE Retention & Success Model The The UNISA UNISA Throughput Throughput Forum Forum Strong external and internal imperative to improve retention and success, especially in ODL context Co-ordinated and integrated effort to improve retention and success Approach adopted: to achieve the comprehensive understanding of all factors shaping retention and success through modeling initiative Purpose of modeling initiative: to provide a systematic, evidence-based, contextuallyrelevant foundation to inform and guide initiatives to improve retention and success This work undertaken by modeling Task Team 2-fold 2-fold Framework Framework for for Enhancing

Enhancing Retention Retention & & Success Success 1. Comprehensive modelling initiative Literature review (conducted by Dr Paul Prinsloo) Drawing from this, the conceptual/hypothetical modelling of the positive and risk factors shaping the student experience, retention & success in the ODL context of Unisa (Modelling Task Team) Together, the literature review and conceptual model released as a Strategic Discussion Forum discussion document during April for expert response, comprehensive engagement & feedback and then to STLSC & Senate, and at two international and one local conferences Regarding the model, determining what variables are knowable, measurable, (is/may be) available and actionable Utilising model to shape student tracking system, to gather relevant and available quantitative and comprehensive complementary qualitative data (myUnisa) Statistical and analytic modelling to determine factors shaping success and to predict and address risk and readjusting the model as necessary A A 2-fold 2-fold framework framework for for enhancing enhancing throughput throughput & & success success 2. Transforming institutional identity, attributes & practices Utilising consolidated findings (as actionable

intelligence) to inform and guide existing and new Learner Support Framework and initiatives and academic practices and operational improvements in order to improve success, throughput and the student experience; Monitoring and evaluating these initiatives over time as part of continuous reflection and improvement and ongoing QA MANAGEMENT OF STUDENT EXPERIENCE, RETENTION, SUCCESS & GRADUATENESS Shaped by modeling process Conceptual Modeling M&E Learner Support Interventions and other academic & administrative changes Identifying what is relevant, measurable, available & actionable Tracking System Statistical & Analytic Modelling

producing Actionable Intelligence Overview of the literature review 1. The comprehensive review covered the literature from the earliest model proposed by Spady in 1970 to current theoretical developments 2. This included retention models In international HE (Spady, Bean, Tinto, EPI) In international distance education (Kember, Simpson) In South Africa (REAP, Koen, CHE). 3. Theoretically, the models range from strictly sociological (Baird, Berger) to anthropological 29 (Hurtado), social-critical (Tierney) and 2 Some pointers 1. Student retention is a complex, layered and dynamic set of events. 2. International models are not appropriate to the specific African, developing country and ODL context of Unisa. 3. In particular, they do not recognise need for institutional transformation an especially prominent issue in SA HE policy. 4. Self-efficacy, attribution and locus of control are important constructs in explaining students academic and social trajectories (extrapolated in the model to explain institutional attributes as 30 well).

Some pointers 5. In an ODL context, non-cognitive and institutional factors may impact more on student success than in residential settings. 6. While important to identify relevant variables in the Unisa context, even more important will be to determine the combined effects of, and relationships between different variables at different points in the student journey. 7. Research into student retention and success should be quantitative and qualitative. Relatively low proportion of retention variance explained by current statistical models Complementary strategy: Obtain rich qualitative information as part of thick student profiling and 31 ongoing intensive 2-way engagement Key Key Constructs Constructs Situated agents: student and institution Historical, geographical and socio-cultural backgrounds Capital Habitus Student Walk Mutual engagement With regard to academic & non-academic factors Broad definition of success Transformation process Managing risks and opportunities Domains: student Intra-personal and inter-personal institution academic, administrative & social Modalities: attribution, locus of control, self-efficacy

Key Key explanatory explanatory claims claims Success broadly defined: Fit at each stage of the student walk from preadmission to participation in workplace & society Includes course success, graduation & positive student experience Success as the outcome of sufficient fit Sufficient fit as the outcome of mutual transformation to ensure necessary preconditions Mutual transformation as the outcome of mutual engagement Mutual engagement as the outcome of mutual knowledge and co-responsibility Modal SHAPING CONDITIONS: (predictable as well as uncertain) ities: Social structure, macro & meso shifts: globalisation, political economy, policy; National/local culture & climate Personal /biographical micro shifts Att rib uti TRANSFORMED STUDENT IDENTITY & ATTRIBUTES: STUDENT on Processes: Domai IDENTITY & ATTRIBUTES: Informed responsibility & choice ns: Situated agent: SES, demographics Lo

Ontological/epistemological dev. Capital: cultural, intellectual, emotional, cus Managing risks/opportunities/ Intr attitudinal of uncertainty: Integration, adaptation, a Habitus: perceptions, dispositions, co socialisation & negotiation per discourse, expectations ntr son F F F F ol al F THE STUDENT WALK: I I I I I Sel T T T T T Multiple, mutually constitutive Int

finteractions between student, institution ereffi & networks Retention/Progression/Positiveperexperience cac son Managing complexity/ uncertainty/ Employy Choice, Learning Course Graduaal unpredictability/risks/opportunities ment/ Admission activities success tion Institutional requirements known & citizenship mastered by student Student known by institution through F F F F F tracking, profiling & prediction I I I I I T INSTITUTIONAL

IDENTITY & ATTRIBUTES: Situated organisation: history, location, strategic identity, culture, demographics Capital: cultural, intellectual, attitudinal Habitus: perceptions, dispositions, discourse, expectations T T T FIT Success T TRANSFORMED INSTITUTIONAL IDENTITY & ATTRIBUTES: Processes: Domains: Moda Informed responsibility & lities: choice Acade Managing mic A risks/opportunities:

ttr Transformation, change Opera ib management, org. learning, tional uti Social integration & adaptation on SHAPING CONDITIONS: (predictable as well as uncertain) Social structure, macro & meso shifts: globalisation, internationalisation, political economy, technology, socialLo demand HE/ODL trends, policy cu Institutional biography & shifts; Strategy, business model & architecture, culture & climate, politics & power relations s of FIT Proposition Proposition 1 1 Student success is broadly interpreted and indicated by course success, retention and reasonably quick progression through the main phases of the student walk, and ultimately successful graduation and effective participation in the labour market and/or citizenship. Success also incorporates a positive student experience as a result of student-centred service excellence and efficient operations provided by the institution. Proposition

Proposition 2 2 Student success and positive experience is the outcome of sufficient fit between the identity and attributes of the student and the institution through all phases of student walk. Proposition Proposition 3 3 Fit arises when elements of the student and institutional identity and attributes (capital and habitus) are optimally aligned at each successive stage of the student walk. Fit at these various points is the outcome of the specific individual student and institutional preconditions. Proposition Proposition 4 4 In order for fit to arise at each successive stage of the student walk, relevant transformative changes in the identity and attributes of the student and the institution are required. Student Student & & Institutional Institutional Transformation Transformation Processes Crucially dependent on relevant mutual actionable knowledge This is an essential precondition in the management of risks, uncertainties and

opportunities Student: understanding institutional expectation & requirements & executing these Institution: tracking, profiling, predicting relevant activities, risks & opportunities and adapting practices accordingly Institutional Institutional Transformation Transformation The institutions obligation is to continually reflect on its assumptions and practices not only in order to improve delivery but to eradicate hidden socioeconomic and cultural barriers to equitable student access & success and thus to achieve the QA criterion of fitness to purpose This captures the transformative approach, failing which the institution perpetuates the social reproduction of elites Proposition Proposition 5 5 The student walk comprises a series of multiple, mutually constitutive interactions between the situated student and the situated institution and between them and their various respective networks through all points of the walk (Articulation with ODL model) Proposition Proposition 6 6 The formation and transformation of student and institutional identity and attributes is continuously shaped by overarching conditions at the macro, meso and micro levels

Conclusion Conclusion 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Unisa: Integrated, comprehensive approach to addressing the imperative of improving success, throughput & student experience modelling approach Literature Review: Rich field of enquiry, with interesting array of theoretical perspectives International models not appropriate to developing country ODL context and do not recognise imperative for institutional transformation Unique features of Unisa Model: Key constructs and propositions, especially the central component of the need for mutual knowledge, engagement & transformation on the part of both student and institution Evidence suggests that non-cognitive and institutional variables impact equally (if not more) on student retention and success The initial indications from the literature and the conceptual model, as well as the envisiged qualitative and quantitative actionable intelligence should provide the basis of a much more comprehensive understanding of the student experience, retention & success at Unisa: key area of IR On the basis of this, the risks facing students and the institution can be identified, predicted, monitored & proactively addressed Thank Thank you! you!

Professor George Subotzky Executive Director: Information & Strategic Analysis University of South Africa [email protected]

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