Retention Matters, but It's Not the Only Thing That Counts: As Higher Education Shifts Its Focus Away from Retention toward Graduation, Librarians Are Seeking New Ways to Connect with Students and Ensure Their Success

By Bell, Steven J. | Information Outlook, January-February 2014 | Go to article overview

Retention Matters, but It's Not the Only Thing That Counts: As Higher Education Shifts Its Focus Away from Retention toward Graduation, Librarians Are Seeking New Ways to Connect with Students and Ensure Their Success


Bell, Steven J., Information Outlook


There's a reason that colleges, small ones in particular, invest so much energy in student retention. Imagine a tuition-driven college with 1,000 students or fewer. Beyond the cost of enrolling students who leave before they graduate--a cost that represents a lost investment--the foregone tuition revenue can have a dramatic impact. Even the loss of 5 or 10 students could force the institution to reduce staff, eliminate faculty and programs, and freeze hiring. If this cycle repeats itself, the college could be reduced to merging with a stronger institution or, worse yet, cease to exist.

That scenario is real, and it is happening. A recent report by Inside Higher Ed (Rivard 2013) listed multiple institutions affected by unanticipated enrollment declines. Martin university in indianapolis, for example, expected

700 students to enroll for the 2013-14 academic year, but only 522 did, so the university cut 16 faculty and staff positions.

The problem is not limited to small colleges; every higher education institution is seeking to improve its retention rate. Money isn't the only reason--declining enrollments can also have a negative impact on college rating systems--but few schools can afford to lose tuition revenue. To a certain extent, it's about more than even ratings and money. Faculty and administrators alike genuinely want to provide a great learning experience that encourages students to persist to graduation, and they will do all they can to make it happen.

Efforts to improve retention will no doubt help, but ultimately, new strategies to achieve an improved competitive position in a rapidly shifting higher education landscape may be the only difference between sustainability and collapse. This article will share observations and thoughts about retention practices and suggest ways in which academic libraries can contribute to keeping students enrolled, but it will also discuss how new trends in higher education may shift the focus from "keep them enrolled" to "get them graduated."

Demonstrating Value

As colleges and universities scrutinize their budgets for ways to keep costs and tuition prices stable, the pressure to justify funding allocations and hold recipients accountable for results continues to build. This has academic librarians looking for new ways to prove they contribute to their school's mission. Retention is taking on new meaning for academic librarians who want to demonstrate their institutional value. in the past, researchers sought to demonstrate value by establishing a relationship between library use and academic performance. In today's age of big data, attention is turning to the crunching of transaction counts to produce any signs of library use--borrowing books, using library databases, coming into the library--that can be connected to high grades, graduation, and other outward indications of academic success. While these quantitative approaches tend to produce positive results, with library investments correlating with better academic performance, the retention research suggests that what works best is more qualitative than quantitative in nature. Specifically, students who persist to graduation often benefit from a good support network and relationships with faculty, administrators and even librarians.

In light of this research, academic librarians are creating new opportunities to build relationships with students that will offer the type of support that may keep them enrolled. For example, to provide extra support to students when they are most at risk of dropping out, many librarians have implemented so-called first-year programs designed to meet the specific needs of freshmen. Given that the transition from high school to college-level research is a significant hurdle for many first-year students, these programs improve the odds of retention by providing direct research support and education. Other ways that academic librarians build relationships include launching "personal librarian" programs that match librarians with new students, enhancing information literacy education, and embedding themselves within both physical and virtual courses. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Retention Matters, but It's Not the Only Thing That Counts: As Higher Education Shifts Its Focus Away from Retention toward Graduation, Librarians Are Seeking New Ways to Connect with Students and Ensure Their Success
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.