Our Podcast Packages are a collection of previous webinar selections, bundled together around a similar theme, available for a discounted price. Podcast Packages are a great way to promote continued learning in retention and to find new initiatives and programs which may work at your institution. 

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Price: $100 for CSRDE Members, or $125 for Non-Members.

Available Packages:

First-Year Student Success Initiatives
A One-Week Freshman Boot Camp That Increases Second Year Retention Rates by 5% and 4-Year Graduation Rates by 10%

Presented by Sheri Wischusen & E. William Wischusen of Louisiana State University

Retention of college students in STEM majors is strongly linked to their experiences and success in introductory courses. The Biology Intensive Orientation for Students (BIOS) bridge program, a five-day pre-freshman program at Louisiana State University (LSU), has consistently increased the success of students in introductory courses, their retention to the second year of college, and four-year graduation rates. In addition to overall gains, this program has led to specific gains for underrepresented groups – ethnic, socio-economic and first-generation college. Data show that biology majors who participated in BIOS immediately prior to their first semester were more likely to be successful in an introductory science course, more likely to remain in the major than their peers at LSU, and more likely to graduate in four years as biology majors.

Originally Presented on March 11, 2020.

Effective Initiatives for First-Year Students That Increase the Rates of Retention and College Completion

Presented by Sri Sitharaman, Tina Butcher, & Kimberly McElveen of Columbus State University

Columbus State University developed initiatives to improve student “access to” and “graduation from” our institution. These initiatives allow students to earn quality degrees in a timely manner. Institutional plans include: 15-to-Finish, consolidation of advising services, consolidation of tutorial services, and enriched services and programs for special populations. CSU embraces the value of inclusion and provides a pathway to success for diverse populations including: military and veterans, students with disabilities, African American males, Pell Grant recipients, and adult learners. Presenters will highlight these initiatives and results from data analysis based on first year students. Research includes these initiatives and the results from our data analysis based on first year first time students. The data will reflect information based on the following criteria: major, gender, ethnicity, Pell eligibility, HOPE eligibility, and special populations. Further incorporated is data for first time first year students who enrolled in 15-To-Finish and students who enrolled in less than 15 credits per term. Comparison data will reflect major, GPA, retention, qualitative data from students on why they didn’t take 15 credit hours. The culmination of the research provided will reflect best practices for first year first time students, and CSU’s dedicated resources for supporting student success.

Originally Presented on July 11, 2018.

Retention Is Up 10-Percentage Points: The Secrets to Success . . . Without Money

Presented by Alan Bearman & Sean Bird of Washburn University, & Elaine Lewis of Virginia Tech

Washburn University, a publically funded open admissions university in Topeka, Kansas, exhibits how a commitment to good data analytics and evidence-based student success practices can improve retention without a significant financial investment. With less than a $100,000 investment, first-time, full-time retention increased 10-percentage points in just five years. The presenters discuss calculated risks, grounded in research and data analytics, taken to re-allocate portions of a university’s undergraduate libraries budget to create a student success unit and develop new initiatives to improve retention and on-time graduation. This webinar highlights three initiatives that aided in this retention success story: the creation of the Center for Student Success and Retention (CSSR), linking first-year student success initiatives to the University Student Learning Outcome (USLO) of Information Literacy and Technology, and a strong partnership with Institutional Research. These three elements formed the backbone of a replicable model that allowed Washburn University to focus its resources in ways that maximized their impact on student success.

Originally Presented on January 16, 2019.

National Symposium on Student Retention Award Winners
Academic Work Ethic as an Enrollment Management Measure

2018 NSSR Institutional Research Leadership in Student Retention Award Winner

Presented by Phil Moore & Marla Mamrick of University of South Carolina & Megan Schramm-Possinger of Winthrop University

Despite the importance and emphasis placed on college outcomes, retention and graduation rates have stagnated nationally. As a result, early alert systems have gained in popularity. These systems attempt to detect groups of students who have lower than institutional average retention or graduation rates, and then prescribe and implement strategies to assist these students. This study investigates using a measure of academic work ethic derived from admissions test scores and high school GPA to detect students at-risk. The group of students with low academic work ethic is less likely to return each year and is less likely to graduate. Academic work ethic also appears promising when used with existing admissions decision indexes, and can lead to higher retention and graduation rates and an increase in enrollment numbers for minority, Pell eligible, and in-state students.

Originally Presented on May 13, 2020.

Student Engagement and Success: Action, Assessment, and Dialogue

2018 NSSR Best Practices Award Winner

Presented by Peggy Whaley, Cindy Clemson, & Jeff Henry of Murray State University

Murray State University has piloted student success discipline-specific freshmen transitions courses in which academic affairs and student affairs personnel collaborate as partner instructors. Faculty who are assigned to teach their disciplines’ one-credit- hour transitions course are paired with student affairs, library, or graduate student volunteers. Discipline faculty deliver discipline-specific content and volunteer instructors deliver content on time management, strategic learning, resiliency, managing college life and successful student behaviors. This webinar will highlight the results of four years of data indicating the success of this collaborative model for students and instructors.

Originally Presented on July 29, 2020.

Understanding Student Motivations to Inform Practice: Adopting a Multi-Methods Approach to Complex Questions

2017 NSSR Director’s Award Winner

Presented by Georgeanna Robinson, Kaitlin Wilcox, & Randall Stiles of Grinnell College

Institutional decision making is typically informed by quantitative data. However, the factors that promote student success are many and varied, and have complex relationships that may not be understood quantitatively or be meaningfully quantifiable. While student behaviors may be measurable, the motivations underlying their actions are often inaccessible via quantitative data. This presentation describes one approach taken by Grinnell College to understand student success holistically. Researchers noticed students dramatically improving their recent term GPA compared to their cumulative GPA, but were unable to determine the causes of this improvement from the quantitative data. In-depth qualitative interviews, lasting approximately an hour, uncovered the complex factors contributing to students’ improved academic performance, as well as the barriers they had previously experienced. Barriers that became facilitators of academic success included class choices, faculty, study behaviors and attitudes, and help seeking. Other barriers included adjustment to the Grinnell environment and suboptimal mental health. Use of resources, self-care, organization, extra-curricular activities, and friendships acted as facilitators. The presentation closes with a brief review of how the greater understanding of student motivations underlying their behaviors are being used by faculty and staff in various roles at Grinnell College to inform practice, program development, and decision making.

Originally Presented on May 8, 2019.

Predictive Modeling for Student Success
Need-Based Financial Aid Strategies to Promote Student Success

Presented by Todd Brann & Craig Rudick of The University of Kentucky

Using predictive modeling techniques, we have found that unmet financial need is among the best pre-matriculation variables in our data for predicting 2nd fall retention of first-time undergraduates. Once students are enrolled, their earned GPA dominates in predicting 2nd fall retention, although unmet need retains a strong and significant effect at all levels of academic achievement. A substantial increase in enrolled students with high unmet need is holding down our institutional retention rate by as much as 1.6%. In order to address this issue, we have implemented the Provost Persistence Grant program to provide financial assistance to students in acute financial stress. Although historically our financial aid programs have been almost exclusively merit-based, we are currently exploring options for a comprehensive need-based aid program to improve student persistence. The goal is to combine dedicated funds for students self-identifying with financial difficulties and leveraging strategies to optimize institutional spending and maximize retention impact.

Originally Presented on March 7, 2018.

Predicting Academic Success in Initial Mathematics Course Taken by First-Time Freshmen

Presented by Robert Terry, George Bogaski, & Nicole Campbell of University of Oklahoma

To facilitate success in students’ initial encounter with college-level mathematics, many Universities require incoming freshmen to take a mathematics placement (MP) test before enrolling in mathematics courses. For the purposes of this study, our goal was to examine the efficacy of augmenting a MP test score with additional, readily available academic success predictors for predicting freshmen DFW rates (D, F, or Withdrawing) in mathematics courses. To accomplish our goal, we built one model predicting overall DFW rates from the MP score and additional academic success predictors, and we built another model predicting students’ MP test scores with academic success predictors. Both models only use information from incoming students’ application process, which makes it a no-cost extension of the MP test scores. Our findings indicate models with increased information about students better predict DFW rates, suggesting possible improvement in the placement of freshmen in math courses and reduced DFW rates.

Originally Presented on February 5, 2020.

Retention and Recruitment: Using a Predictive Analytic Model to Build and Implement a Strategic Graduation and Retention Action Plan

Presented by Sherry Cox, Jeremiah McKinley, & Glenn Hansen of the University of Oklahoma

Increasing student retention and graduation rates is a top priority in higher education. Early identification of at risk students for intervention programs or redirection into other degree paths improves retention and graduation rates. Likewise, given the increasing teacher shortage, identifying strong candidates for Teacher Certification programs and graduating prepared future teachers is crucial. The use of predictive analytics provides a promising method in the quest to increase student success at universities and colleges. Our current predictive analytic model utilizes a machine learning algorithm, extreme gradient boosted machine, to identify strong candidates for Teacher Certification programs as well as predicting graduation and program completion. The prediction model, built on historical data, is being applied as a retention and recruitment tool. A strategic graduation and retention action plan, based on the model, is in use by academic advisors and college administrators with current students identified by the model as at-risk for not graduating. This webinar covers the current model and features, application and analysis with active students, the strategic graduation and retention action plan and its implementation and use by academic advisors and college administrators to assist at-risk students, and future directions.

Originally Presented on August 7, 2019.

Success Practices and Strategies for Underserved Students (Option 1)
Leavers, Stayers and Contemplators: Understanding the Drivers of Success for Low-Income Students

Presented by Sally J. McMillan & Serena Matsunaga of the University of Tennessee

At the University of Tennessee at Knoxville (UT), nearly 30% of undergraduate students qualify for Pell grants. In 2010, UT adopted a strategic plan that committed to improving graduation outcomes. While UT raised six-year rates by nearly 10 points over five years, Pell-eligible students trailed university averages. These students were often invisible because they spanned race, ethnicity, and gender categories. Students were also reluctant to voice challenges. To better understand this population, UT conducted a “stayers study” to supplement a previous “leavers study” which surveyed students who were not retained to understand drivers for attrition. The stayers study focused on what keeps students at UT—particularly those who considered leaving but decided to stay—to identify success drivers and student perceptions of programs. Research engaged 700+ seniors in a survey that allowed comparison of Pell and non-Pell students. The research helped UT to understand the story of students with financial need, including challenges and success attributes. This webinar reviews stayer study results related to Pell students. It also addresses how the stayers study, paired with existing data, allowed UT to target coordinated action among advising, enrollment management, and student life.

Originally Presented on December 5, 2018.

Peer Coaching: A Model for Supporting the Persistence of First-Generation College Students

Presented by Reginald Simmons & Alexandra Castillo of Central Connecticut State University

Initiatives supporting the persistence of incoming freshmen are a staple at many colleges and universities. However, the transition from sophomore to junior status can be a time of great attrition. There is increasing recognition that pairing successful undergraduates similar in background and experience with other undergraduates in a mentoring relationship can be effective, particularly for enhancing the academic success of under-represented and first-generation students. This webinar will introduce the audience to Success Central, a university-supported intervention where junior and senior undergraduate students use coaching techniques to mentor freshmen and sophomore first-generation college students. Student coaching has demonstrated results in enhancing the persistence of undergraduate students (Bettinger & Baker, 2014). The audience will learn how mentors are chosen, trained, and supervised. They will also see case-studies that demonstrate the intervention and data pertaining to the mentees who have completed Success Central. 

Originally Presented on February 19, 2020.

Reframing Student Retention: Developing a Holistic Model to Improve the Likelihood of New Student Success

Presented by Sami Nassim & Barbara LoMonaco of Salve Regina University

By the end of 2012-2013, a liberal arts university faced the challenge of declining retention in first-year students, especially students of color. In comparison to the previous year, the overall first-year retention declined by nearly 3% and the first- to second-year retention of students of color declined by more than 15%. In response to this troubling data, a new and innovative model for retention and student success was created and implemented for the next two cohorts. The model identified seven major demographic factors that would likely contribute to student attrition. The model examined the combined effect of these factors on retention rather than focusing on each factor in isolation as suggested by previous researchers. Based on the insights provided by the new model, students at risk of dropping out were identified early in the year and appropriate interventions and support mechanisms were put into place. Utilization of this model has produced dramatic results with first- to second-year retention increasing by 7% and retention of students of color increasing by 23% in two years. The model is currently being implemented for the third year.

Originally Presented on September 12, 2018.

Success Practices and Strategies for Underserved Students (Option 2)
On-Time and Debt-Free: A Data-Driven Holistic Coaching Model for Low-Income Student Success at Purdue

Presented by Michelle Ashcraft, Jessica Ramsey, Taylor Brodner, & Hao Zhu of Purdue University

Purdue University has narrowed the graduation gap for low-income Indiana 21st Century Scholars eligible to enroll in an access and support program called Purdue Promise. The program combines full financial need assistance with four years of student success coaching. Purdue Promise is designed to graduate students on-time and debt-free, and assist students in strengthening self-efficacy, self-advocacy, help-seeking skills, and grit. Cohort-based programming designed on best practices did not lead to increased retention and graduation rates from 2009 to 2012. However, the implementation of an individualized coaching program in fall 2013 led to a more than 18% increase in four-year graduations rates by fall 2017. The Purdue Promise four-year coaching model—including individual meetings, online modules, freshman and senior seminar classes, and at-risk data mining—has contributed to the increased retention and graduation of low-income Purdue Promise students, with more than half the population being first-generation and up to 40% identifying as underrepresented minorities (URM).

Originally Presented on September 11, 2019.

Serving the Underserved: The Impact of a Learning Community on Historically Underrepresented Populations in Higher Education

Presented by Kate E. Meudt and Elizabeth Machado of Cardinal Stritch University

In 2013, the Leadership, Development, Reflection, and Service (LDRS) Initiative learning community was created to increase retention of low-income students, students of color, and first-generation students at a small liberal arts college in the Midwest. Initial results were promising. While retention of students from these historically underrepresented populations at the University was 64% in 2012, retention at the beginning of the fall semester of 2015 for students who participated in the program was 73%. Given the dramatic increase in retention, a phenomenological study was completed in fall of 2015 to determine participants’ perceived impact of the components of the program on retention. The study found that the essential component of the program was relationships students were able to build with peers, staff, and faculty, and that each element of the program was impactful in providing opportunity to develop these relationships. Since this study, the program has supported two more classes of incoming freshmen and witnessed its first graduates. Four-year graduation rates for the students in the program are 8% higher than previous rates of students from these populations, and 25% higher than previous five-year graduation rates for the same population.

Originally Presented on June 12, 2019.

The Affordability Task Force: Making Campus Change Happen Through Data and Advocacy

Presented by Rory McElwee, Sean Hendricks, Penny McPherson-Myers, & Alison Novak of Rowan University

Affordability is a major determinant of retention and completion, and institutions can bolster affordability through their practices. In light of national data and best practices research, the presenters will describe the work of Rowan University’s Affordability Task Force, comprised of faculty, staff, and students, who have engaged in campus study and the development and promotion of affordability-related programs and services. Since its launch in 2016, the Task Force has engaged in multiple studies of affordability-related programs, services, and student experiences on campus. We then launched a campus food pantry and resource center; implemented programming for National Financial Literacy Month and created a financial literacy course; created a program to support faculty efforts to create lower-cost or free course materials; and used numerous strategies to raise awareness among students and employees regarding available resources. This webinar will describe the Task Force’s use of data to create specific deliverables and effective advocacy to impact campus affordability. Discussion will address strategies that participants can use to improve campus mindset and programs that boost affordability​ at their institutions.

Originally Presented on April 3, 2019.

Theoretical Models of Retention and Success
Critical Race Theory as a Framework for Understanding and Promoting Minoritized Student Retention at Predominantly White Institutions

Presented by Candice Powell, Cynthia Demetriou, Terrell Morton, & A.T. Panter of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Racial disparities in retention and graduation rates are a top concern across institutions of higher education, yet scholars and practitioners rarely look to racism to explain these disparities (Harper, 2012). Critical Race Theory (CRT) is an epistemological and methodological framework designed to reveal and challenge power and oppression dynamics between racialized groups (Harper, 2009; Lynn & Dixson, 2013). CRT can provide insight about how racism serves to maintain and reinforce educational policies, practices, and access to resources and opportunities. Increasing awareness of systemic racial inequities creates opportunity for people in power positions to engage in socially conscious action and decision-making within higher education (Ladson-Billings, 1998; Patton, 2015; Robbins & Quaye, 2014). This webinar will provide a conceptual introduction to CRT for retention practitioners and considers how the CRT framework can elucidate minoritized student retention at predominantly white institutions. Strategies for using CRT to guide institutional decision-making are also offered.

Originally Presented on December 6, 2017.

Elicitation Model: Digging Into the Notion of Student Engagement

Presented by Michael Morsches of Moraine Valley Community College & Grant J. Matthews of Lane Community Colleg

Student engagement can encompass many different levels of interaction. Whether it be between student and instructor, among students themselves, with the actual subject matter, or with the various resources and departments on campus—getting and keeping students engaged is a challenging proposition. Frequently, students say they fear speaking in public, being called upon in class, going to the whiteboard, and being singled out by an instructor. Collectively, these fears could be conceptualized as a wish or need for anonymity. Faculty have cited student actions such as participation, question asking, volunteering, office hour visits, and favorable body language as preferred behaviors. These preferences could be conceptualized as a wish or need for engagement. “East is East and West is West, and never the twain…” (Kipling, 1929, p. 75). This webinar will outline the authors’ Elicitation Model and theoretical Student Engagement Constructs to explore psychological factors that prohibit engagement. The webinar also presents many practical, proven examples of classroom techniques, gestures, and considerations for using the Elicitation Model that can help produce healthy student engagement in all academic spheres of interaction.

Originally Presented on February 6, 2019.

The Effects of Institutional Behaviors on Undergraduate Degree Completion

Presented by Patricia Bice of Purchase College, SUNY

Research on student retention and persistence has often overlooked organizational behaviors of colleges and universities as an impactful construct, instead focusing more on precollege characteristics of students or characteristics of the college rather than its behaviors. In their comprehensive model of influences on student learning and persistence, Terenzini and Reason (2005) place the organizational context of the model before the student peer environment, indicating that organizational behaviors can be powerful tools influencing the peer environment and student outcomes. The organizational context framework assisted the researcher in developing a deeper understanding of the complex nature of internal organizational structures, practices and behaviors through the experiences of students, faculty, and administrators. Through the presentation and discussion of the findings and recommendations from this study, educators will develop an understanding of the potential impact institutional behaviors may have on student outcomes.

Originally Presented on January 15, 2020.