Relationship between non -traditional students' personal characteristics and their retention at a satellite campus in South Dakota
Given the growing population of non-traditional students in South Dakota's largest urban area, Sioux Falls, the personnel from three partner universities that comprise the Sioux Falls satellite campus USDSU, must increase their efforts to understand who this population is and what their unique needs are in order to monitor and increase retention rates. This study examined the retention rates of a cohort of students enrolled in the Fall of 2001 in the three universities' degree programs at USDSU. This study also determined the relationship between the rates of student retention on the satellite campus and the students' personal characteristics, and if these personal characteristics could be used to predict if students will be retained or persist to graduate at USDSU.
An ex post facto research design was used to study retention of a cohort of 490 students enrolled at USDSU over a four-year period. Student personal characteristics included gender, age, degree program, financial aid, ACT scores, and remedial coursework requirements (pre-general education coursework) based upon ACT subscores and COMPASS math and reading scores.
Descriptive statistics, including frequencies and percentages, and Pearson chi-squares were used to analyze data. Students who graduated were counted as retained. Crosstabs procedures were used to construct two-way contingency tables, and the Pearson chi-square statistic was used to test the relationships between categorical variables. Significant relationships were further studied using standardized residuals.
The retention rates decreased each year, beginning in the fall of 2002. Students in the 18 to 28 age group are the highest year-to-year retention rates observed. Female students are retained at a higher rate than male students. Students receiving financial aid are retained at a higher rate than those not receiving aid. Students enrolled in associate degree programs are retained at a higher rate than those enrolled in baccalaureate degree programs. Students enrolled in either a remedial math course or a remedial English course show decreasing retention rates throughout the years of the study. Retention of students attending USDSU is much lower than those of the three individual campuses, and decreases with each consecutive year of enrollment.
Enrollment in programs at the satellite campus, USDSU, is expected to grow. The partner campuses need to address the unique retention issues pertaining to the non-traditional student population.
0745: Higher education