Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Effect of Judicial Sanctions on Recidivism and Retention

Academic journal article College Student Journal

The Effect of Judicial Sanctions on Recidivism and Retention

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of active and passive judicial sanctions on college student recidivism and retention. Recidivism and retention rates were calculated for four samples of students drawn from the student conduct database who were involved in misconduct during the 1997-1998 academic year in order to examine the following hypotheses:

1. Recidivism rates for students assigned active judicial sanctions will be lower than that of students assigned to passive judicial sanctions.

2. Retention rates for students assigned active judicial sanctions will be higher than that of students assigned to passive judicial sanctions.

Active judicial sanctions included assignment to an educational non-credit class, community service, and writing a reflective/educational paper. Passive sanctions included a warning, disciplinary probation, and deferred suspension.

Overall recidivism rates were equivalent for students assigned to active and passive sanctions, although the rates varied among individual active sanctions. Students assigned to community service, or to write a reflective/educational paper experienced a lower recidivism rate than students assigned to certain educational classes or to passive sanctions. Overall retention rates for students assigned to active sanctions were not higher than for students assigned to passive sanctions.

Recommendations for further research are included.

Much of the scholarly research on student misconduct has dealt with the concepts of fairness and due process. Far less attention has been given to how various campus judicial sanctions impact student outcomes, particularly retention and recidivism. Dannells (1997) notes that we know "surprisingly little" about the effectiveness of student discipline practices in spite of the fact that institutions of higher education in the United States have dealt with student disciplinary issues for hundreds of years (p. v).

Student participation in the campus environment has been shown to increase student satisfaction with the overall college experience, which Astin (1984, 1993) suggests is highly significant to student retention. Astin (1984) holds that the "effectiveness of any educational policy or practice is directly related to the capacity of that policy or practice to increase student involvement" (p. 298). Actively engaging students in a developmental and educational discipline process fostering student-student or faculty-student interaction may have potential for improving student retention yet there is little, if any, research designed to investigate whether or not the student involvement theory is applicable to the judicial process.

Many student conduct administrators agree that the disciplinary process should highlight educational objectives, and have structured their discipline processes to reflect the position of the Association for Student Judicial Affairs (ASJA) which holds that the disciplinary process should be educational and should be concerned with the use of "creative sanctions, alternate dispute resolutions, and proactive as well as reactive activities that help students learn" (Kibler, 1998, pp.13, 15). Educational programs as sanctions can include mandatory attendance at non-credit classes or seminars and usually contain a counseling and/or advising component. According to Olshak (1999), active sanctions such as classes or seminars should also promote student understanding of how their behavior impacts others, the concept of community standards, and a self-awareness of potential physical and psychological consequences that can result from their behavior. Consequently, he does not advocate the use of inactive or passive sanctions such as verbal reprimands, a written warning, or disciplinary probation as the sole means of effectively deterring future misconduct. Instead, Olshak (1999) recommends the use of more active sanctions such as community service assignments and participation in educational programs as a supplement to, or an alternative approach in place of, more traditional passive sanctions. …

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