Second to Third Year Persistence

Through data analysis done by the Chancellor's Office, second to third year retention has been identified as an area needing attention at Chico State. Our campus’ first-year retention rates are good across various demographic groups. However, from year two to year three there have been declines in retention for both overall students and underrepresented minorities (URMs).

If students successfully navigated their first year, what causes them to drop out at the end of the second year? In considering the cause, Undergraduate Education in collaboration with Academic Advising Programs (AAP) submitted a Student Success Action Research Proposal to the Chancellor’s Office requesting funding for research into identifying the issue or set of issues impeding our students’ progress. Funding for a temporary staff position and faculty participation to focus on this research for 18 months was awarded.

There are two dimensions to the Second to Third Year Persistence Project. One is to create a predictive model to identify at-risk students. Robin Donatello in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics has been working with Institutional Research to develop a statistical model to predict if a student will drop out after year two. This would allow AAP or other advisors to provide students support services to increase their likelihood of returning for year three. The second part of the project is for AAP to develop intervention strategies to implement once at-risk students are identified.

While a model is being developed and tested, AAP staff are already contacting students who may be the most at risk—those on academic probation who have never visited the AAP office for advising or attended an advising workshop. The professional staff in AAP are contacting those who are likely to be disqualified while student interns are contacting the remaining at-risk students to provide a student perspective. The ultimate goal is to encourage students to come in and seek advising.

AAP intends to impact students’ perspective regarding what academic advising means. Students have indicated hesitancy because they believe it meant they “were in trouble.” Having AAP student interns reach out to students for peer-to-peer contact will hopefully change that misconception. Students need to realize advisors don’t intend to criticize or punish, rather they want to assist a student with their educational career.

Staff in AAP continue to explore innovative ways to serve as a resource providing effective academic advising. Through relationships with professional staff members at other CSU campuses and through ongoing research on the success of second to third year retention, AAP plans to improve outreach to at-risk students.