Teaching and Learning Forum 97 [ Contents ]

Early student withdrawal: The reasons students give for leaving the university

Jim Elliott
University Counselling Services
Curtin University of Technology

Introduction

Each year, a significant number of first year students become part of the attrition statistics. Attrition may occur in a number of ways - those who fail, those who transfer to other institutions, those who switch courses within institutions, those who withdraw, those who significantly reduce their workload. Of further interest may be particular sub-groups of the university population - recent school-leavers, mature-aged students, rural students, and so forth. One aspect of the issue about which this university knows little are those students who entirely withdraw from their course within a very short time indeed after their initial enrolment. As a member of a counselling service, the writer tends to learn something about those who remain within the system. Students who are still here later in the year often present at the service for assistance. We gain some "feel" for the issues of these students. But what of those who just disappear? What has led a person to enrol in a university course only to withdraw within a very few weeks?

Background to this study

There has been growing interest in the Curtin University community on matters to do with first year persistence. This study arose from a number informal discussion forums around the institution where questions were raised about first year student progress in general, and about the target group of this study. Many staff had opinions and conjectures about the reasons students leave. Some opinions were that the university was failing to meet the needs of such students. Other views took the line that the problem is owned by the new students. And, of course, there were views that it was a complicated mixture of variables that led students to leave within weeks of beginning. It was considered that some useful information may be derived from asking the students themselves.

New students who are Australian citizens or permanent residents are recruited to the university effectively from two sources. A substantial group are those young people who have recently completed secondary education. A second group are mature-aged students. Entering students are offered a place in a university course over the mid-January to early February period each year. Students subsequently commence their course in late February. If such a student withdraws from a course by the end of March, he/she is not liable for the fees charges via the Higher Education Contribution Scheme (HECS). At Curtin University, students may also withdraw up until the end of April without academic penalty. That is, a withdrawal between the end of March and the end of April incurs HECS charges but there will be no failure grade recorded against the units involved. It was thought that it would be of interest to learn more about those students who have withdrawn entirely from their course by the April 30 deadline.

Little attention has been given to this group. While the university maintains records of student withdrawal, it appears that early and total withdrawers have never been the focus of specific study. This study thus is a pilot project where the purpose is to learn something about such students. As a pilot study, we developed no specific hypotheses. Rather, there were two broad research questions to guide the investigation. These are:

  1. Descriptive - what can be observed about the characteristics of students who totally withdraw?

  2. What variables appear worthy of attention for the university?
The study is very much limited to a very specific group. There are clearly significant numbers of students who partially withdraw from courses, and plenty of students who persist in the face of a range of difficulties. This study makes no comment on such other aspects of student progress. The focus is only on those who remove themselves from all study within a short time.

The literature on attrition

There is a substantial literature on student attrition. This literature may be broadly divided into four categories. First, there is much empirical research into the issue. Second, significant theoretical views have been developed. Third, there have been a substantial number of reports at university and government level. Finally, the implications for practice (especially for students) are discussed in a large number of "self-help" books. It is not proposed to devote space to a detailed discussion of this literature. A selected bibliography is attached of the materials which have influenced the writer in developing thoughts on the attrition issue in general and this project in particular. Interested readers may wish to pursue some of those references.

Methodology

i] Overview

Immediately after the April 30 deadline for student withdrawal, the University's statistics office generated a list of all students who met the following criteria:
  1. Undergraduates
  2. New to Curtin
  3. Commonwealth funded students
  4. Totally withdrew from their course by April 30
There were 139 students who met these criteria. The statistics office provided data on the following:
  1. Name
  2. Student number
  3. Course of study
  4. Telephone number
  5. Sex
  6. Date of birth
Within the next three weeks, telephone calls to interview all subjects were attempted. It proved possible to contact 56 of these students. At least three attempts were made to contact the remaining students. Calls were attempted at different times of the day. Some of the 83 who were not contacted had had the telephone disconnected. Some had moved residence. For others, no-one answered the telephone.

When contact was made, the former student was asked to participate in a brief questionnaire. The instructions for the interviewer and the questionnaire are attached in the appendices. No-one who was contacted refused to participate. The interviewer completed a data sheet which combined the data from the statistics office with that obtained directly from the student.

Given the small numbers of students involved, analysis has been restricted to descriptive statistics.

ii] Development of the questionnaire

Information was sought from the students on three broad questions.
  1. Reasons contributing to the decision to withdraw - A list of items was generated to which students could respond. The items were generated by Counselling Service staff from factors suggested by the literature as potentially significant in student attrition. In particular, the theoretical models of Tinto (1975, 1988), and Bean and Metzner (1985) were useful in generating items. Students were asked to indicate whether any of the factors names influenced the decision to withdraw. They could respond to none, some or all of the items if they wished.

  2. Possibility of Future Study - It was thought useful to obtain some indication of the students' intentions with respect to future study. Questions were devised concerning the intention to return to the same course, a different course at the same institution, a course elsewhere, or whether the withdrawal was viewed as a permanent one. Participants were given the option of responding with "yes", "no" or "maybe" to each item - or not responding to the statement at all.

  3. People with whom the decision was discussed - Students who withdraw from their course very early clearly may discuss their decision with others. Participants were asked to indicate whether the decision was discussed with family members, university staff, other students, or peers who are not students. As in the first question, participants could choose to respond to none, some or all of the items.

iii] The sample

Tables 1 and 1a show the age distribution of the whole group of students who withdraw, and the group which was contacted by telephone. Table 1b shows the age distribution of all incoming students who fit the categories described by this study.

Table 1: Age distribution of whole group
Age groupNpercent

15-19
19-24
25-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
31
55
17
26
9
1
22.3
39.5
12.2
18.7
6.5
0.7

Table 1a: Age distribution of contacted group
Age groupNpercent

15-19
19-24
25-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
9
20
12
10
4
1
16.4
35.7
21.4
17.8
7.1
1.8

Table 1b:Age distribution of all new students
Age groupNpercent

15-19
19-24
25-29
30-39
40-49
50-59
2143
843
341
400
192
36
54.1
21.3
8.6
10.1
4.8
0.9

The contacted group of 56 student shows some differences with the whole group of 139 - most notably in having a larger proportion aged 25-29, and a lower proportion aged 15-19. It is clear that the students who withdraw early are not a representative sample of all incoming students on the basis of age. The youngest group in particular is clearly under-represented, whereas older students are more likely to withdraw.

Two variables of interest in making comparisons are gender, and school-leaver versus mature aged entry. Table 2 shows the gender breakdown. It also seeks to divide the students contacted into two age groups. The group aged 15-19 may generally be regarded as a school-leaver category, whereas age 20+ is formally defined by the university as a mature-aged entry. However, such a division provides a very small group of school-leavers for the purposes of later comparisons. If the group is divided between ages 15-24 and 25+, there is a more even division. Later figures presented in this paper will use both age divisions where appropriate.

Table 2: Age and gender of students contacted
(distributions used for comparison)
MaleFemaleTotal

Age 15-19
Age 20+
Total
Age 15-24
Age 25+
Total
5
18
23
13
10
23
4
29
33
16
17
33
9
47
56
29
27
56

Table 2a: Age and gender of all new students
MaleFemaleTotal

Age 15-19
Age 20+
Total
Age 15-24
Age 25+
Total
1169
1072
2241
1610
631
2241
974
744
1718
1376
342
1718
2143
1816
3959
2986
973
3959

Male students represented 41 per cent of the students who withdrew in 1996, whereas they are 56.6 per cent of the incoming student group as a whole. In combining an interpretation of the age and gender data, it appears that being an older female student is a risk factor.

The data from the statistics office included a list of the courses studied by individuals. Table 3 summarises these. Quotas for each course are not shown. However, the numbers withdrawing from particular courses are not wildly at variance with the number of commencing students in each course. The one exception is the data associated with the Early Childhood Education course.

There have recently been changes made to the qualifications required of child care workers who seek to work with children aged three to five years. A qualification in Early Childhood Education has become necessary. In consequence, a comparatively large number of such workers have sought enrolment in this course on a part-time basis. Information supplied by Faculty of Education was that there was some expectation that a substantial proportion of these students would not persist.

Table 3: Distribution of courses studied
CourseWhole
Group
Contacted
Group

Ab. Health
Architecture
Asian Studies
Asian Studies/Commerce
Ass. Deg Lab Tech
Ass. Deg Sc & Tech
Ass. Deg Agriculture
Chem Engineering
Civil/Const. Engineering
Commerce
Construction Mgt
Dental Hygiene
Early Childhood Ed
El/Comp. Engineering
English
Extractive Metallurgy
Family Studies
Interior Design
Life Sciences
Mech. Engineering
Mechatronic Eng.
Mine Surveying
Mining Engineering
Nursing
Occ. Health & Safety
Primary Ed
Secondary Ed
TAFE Ed
Urban/Regional Stud.
Total
3
5
2
1
1
2
2
2
5
33
2
1
18
4
17
1
4
5
1
5
1
2
2
10
1
4
1
3
1
139
0
3
1
0
1
0
0
1
2
11
0
0
8
0
10
0
2
5
0
2
1
0
1
6
0
1
0
0
1
56

It is also worthwhile looking at the courses which do not appear in the above list at all. While it is beyond the scope of this study, in the future it may be worth investigating variables which may be implicated in course differences in withdrawal rates. Courses which have had no withdrawals according to the criteria used are:

Aboriginal Community Mgt & Development
Bachelor of Agriculture
Art
Cartography
Chemistry
Computer Science
Computer Technology
Cultural Heritage Studies
Design
Environmental Health
Geographic Information Systems
Geology
Geophysics
Health Information Management
Health Promotion
Health Sciences
Horticulture
Human Biology
Information & Library Studies
Mathematics & Computing
Medical Imaging Technology
Medical Science
Molecular Genetics
Multi-Science
Nutrition & Food Science
Occupational Therapy
Pharmacy
Physics
Physiotherapy
Podiatry
Psychology
Records Management
Social Work
Speech & Hearing Science
Surveying

Results/Data

i] Raw Scores

The raw numbers responding to each item in the questionnaire are shown in Tables 4, 5 and 6. These raw scores dictated the subsequent comparisons. As will be seen, 56 respondents responding to a series of items where the answers are optional can leave some cells with very small numbers within them. Interpretation and generalisation thus should be treated with great caution.

Table 4: Reasons for withdrawal (Raw scores)
NN

13A Financial problems12K Personal, emotional and/or family problems
0B Homesickness1L Disability-related issues
3C Medical reasons (your own or of others close to you)12M The course does not suit my career choice
11D Difficulty coping with study requirements1N Lack of family support
5E Not committed enough towards study0O Difficulty coping with academic English
7F The university environment did not suit me18P Limited time for university (family, job, leisure etc.)
4G Quality of teaching and/or other educational resources was poor6Q Travel problems getting to and from university (including parking)
8H Did not really want to be in this course in the first place12R Discovered I did not like the course after I had begun
13I Left university for something more important to me (e.g. a job, travel etc.)4S I found staff not to be as helpful as I would have liked
3J My friends are not at this university8T Other reasons? Please specify

Subjects could respond to more than one item on the above list. Several items were discarded for later comparison where there was a low response rate. For example, item B provided a zero response. Item C was not used for later comparison as all three respondents gave further clarifying information that pregnancy was the issue involved.

Table 5: Possibility of Future Study (Raw scores)

Questionnaire Items 2 a,b,c & d.YesMaybeNo

I wish to return to the same course at some time in the future.141010
This is a permanent withdrawal from higher education.12417
I am hoping to transfer to another Curtin University course.3714
I am hoping to study at another university or TAFE college.7310

Not all subjects chose to respond to all items in question 2. Clearly some responses were mutually exclusive.

Table 6: Making the decision to withdraw: People consulted by students (Raw scores)

37A Parents/other family members7E Counselling Service
13B Academic staff 10F Other Curtin students
8C Other university staff21G Friends who are not Curtin students
11D Partners (husband, wife, etc.)3H Someone else? Please specify

It is interesting to observe that no category of university staff was as popular with withdrawing students as family or friends in this context. Perhaps students had not been here long enough to form any relationship or to learn of the sources of help available. Or perhaps they simply chose to consult with people familiar to them.

ii] Comparisons

A number of interesting comparisons can be made using the variables in these data. The following tables and accompanying commentary explore these. For the most part, data has been converted to percentages.

1. Mature-age versus school-leaver entry and reasons given for withdrawal

Comparison categories on the questionnaire are Question 1a, d, e, h, i, k, m, p, and r. As noted earlier, some items have been discarded as containing too little data. These are Question b, c, f, g, j, l, n, q, s and t.

Table 7: Age and reasons given for withdrawal (percentages)

Questionnaire Item 1Age 15-19Age 20 or
greater
Age 15-24Age 25 or
greater

A Financial problems 11.125.524.122.2
D Difficulty coping with study requirements 11.121.213.825.9
E Not committed enough towards study 11.16.410.33.7
H Did not really want to be in this course in the first place 33.310.624.13.7
I Left university for something more important to me
(e.g. a job, travel etc.)
11.125.513.833.3
K Personal, emotional and/or family problems 22.221.213.829.6
M The course does not suit my career choice 33.319.131.011.1
P Limited time for university (family, job, leisure etc.) 22.234.020.644.4
R Discovered I did not like the course after I had begun 66.612.834.57.4

It is interesting to observe that younger students are far more likely to choose items which have something to do with the decision to enter a particular course. Often such a decision was not well-founded. Older students are more likely to name extraneous factors as affecting their decision to withdraw.

2. Mature-age versus school-leaver entry and likelihood of further study

Tables 8a and 8b show a breakdown with respect to age groups. The former shows the comparison between the groups aged 15-19 and 20+, while the latter compares the groups aged 15-24 and 25+. Older students appear more likely to see the withdrawal as a relatively temporary setback. However, these figures are not unequivocal.

Table 8a: Age group and intention with respect to further study

Question 15-19
Yes
20+
Yes
15-19
Maybe
20+
Maybe
15-19
No
20+
No

2a. I wish to return to the same course at some time in the future. 0142828
2b. This is a permanent withdrawal from higher education. 21004314
2c. I am hoping to transfer to another Curtin University course. 2125311
2d. I am hoping to study at another university or TAFE college. 162119


Table 8b: Age group and intention with respect to further study
Question 15-24
Yes
25+
Yes
15-24
Maybe
25+
Maybe
15-24
No
25+
No

2a. I wish to return to the same course at some time in the future. 4106473
2b. This is a permanent withdrawal from higher education. 6622116
2c. I am hoping to transfer to another Curtin University course. 2161104
2d. I am hoping to study at another university or TAFE college. 343028

3. Mature-age versus school-leaver entry and people consulted before withdrawal

Younger students seem more likely to consult their age peers regarding their withdrawal. Both groups are equally likely to discuss the situation with their family. Older students seem particularly unlikely to raise the issue with anyone at the university - either staff or other students.

Table 9: Age and People consulted regarding withdrawal (percentages)

People consulted Age 15-19Age 20+Age 15-24Age 25+

A Parents/other family members 66.765.965.566.7
B Academic staff 33.321.231.014.8
C Other university staff 11.114.96.922.2
D Partners (husband, wife, etc.) 11.121.220.718.5
E Counselling Service 22.210.617.27.4
F Other Curtin students 44.412.831.03.7
G Friends who are not Curtin students 33.338.344.83.0
H Someone else 06.43.47.4

4. Gender differences and reasons given for withdrawal

It should be reiterated that the gender comparison below should be interpreted cautiously. The number of responses in each cell is rather small. Notwithstanding this, the data indicate that male students are more likely to cite financial problems, not wishing to be in the course in the first place, leaving the university for something more important, and not liking the course once begun. Female students more frequently cite personal/emotional/family problems and limited time available for study. In all likelihood, these differences are also related to the age of the respective groups. Female students in the sample are likely to be older.

Table 10: Gender and reasons given for withdrawal (percentage)

Item MaleFemale

A Financial problems 30.418.2
D Difficulty coping with study requirements 17.421.2
E Not committed enough towards study 8.76.0
H Did not really want to be in this course in the first place 21.79.0
I Left university for something more important to me (e.g. a job, travel etc.) 30.418.2
K Personal, emotional and/or family problems 13.027.3
M The course does not suit my career choice 26.018.2
P Limited time for university (family, job, leisure etc.) 17.442.4
R Discovered I did not like the course after I had begun 26.018.2

5. Gender differences and likelihood of further study

While these data show some apparently clear gender differences on inspection, it must be remembered that they are based on very small numbers. There also does not appear to be any clear trend in the data.

Table 11: Possibility of future study and gender (percentage data)

Questionnaire Items 2 a, b, c & d. YesMaybeNo

I wish to return to the same course at some time in the future. Male
21.7
Female
27.3
Male
21.7
Female
15.1
Male
13.0
Female
21.2
This is a permanent withdrawal from higher education. Male
30.4
Female
15.1
Male
8.6
Female
6.0
Male
21.7
Female
36.3
I am hoping to transfer to another Curtin University course. Male
13.0
Female
0
Male
4.3
Female
18.2
Male
30.4
Female
21.2
I am hoping to study at another university or TAFE college. Male
8.6
Female
15.1
Male
8.6
Female
3.0
Male
17.4
Female
18.2

6. Gender differences and people consulted before withdrawal

As in the previous comparison, where there are differences in these percentages, they are based on such small numbers as to make interpretation extremely difficult.

Table 12: Gender and people consulted regarding withdrawal (percentages)

People consulted MaleFemale

A Parents/other family members
B Academic staff
C Other university staff
D Partners (husband, wife, etc.)
E Counselling Service
F Other Curtin students
G Friends who are not Curtin students
H Someone else
73.9
34.8
8.7
26.0
8.7
26.0
39.1
0
60.6
15.1
18.2
15.1
15.1
12.1
36.4
9.1

Discussion

While the data are drawn from a small number of former students, there are some clear indications. The most obvious distinction that may be observed is the difference between older and younger students. The points that emerge with respect to older students are that they are: Younger students in contrast show the following characteristics. They are: There are some messages in these data with respect to gender that appear complex. For older students, it appears that being female increases the risk of being amongst the group who withdraws early. However, this finding may be an artefact of the large group enrolling in Early Childhood Education. Being male and being in Engineering also appears to be a risk factor - but there are so few women in Engineering that any gender inference from these data would be misleading. Women in general seem less likely to have made a poor career choice. Female students are far more likely to cite personal issues and lack of time as their reason for leaving.

These observations from descriptive statistics may be confirmed with further research which uses more sophisticated statistical analysis. Nonetheless, the qualitative messages that one may infer from these data are several. Perhaps young students may not have fully considered the implications of university entry and the link with a career goal. It may be that many accept a place offered at university because it just seems the next "natural" thing to do. The reality of the experience leads to an early attrition for a small proportion.

With respect to mature aged students, there are some confusing messages which are in contrast to some of the prevailing views around the university. There is a widely expressed anecdotal view that older students "do better" than younger ones. That is, their grades are higher; they have fewer failures; they are more likely to be given faculty prizes. Perhaps this is indeed so - for those who make it through the first semester.

It is apparent that the students who withdraw early do not use the support services of the university in any systematic way. This is not a surprising finding. After all, in such a brief period, many may be unaware of sources of help.

Conclusions/Recommendations

This paper has examined some of the issues raised by considering the situation of a very particular group. There are some significant questions which arise as a consequence. The first is whether the university may regard the situation as acceptable.

This university enrolled 3959 new students this year. Of these, 139 withdrew fully by April 30. This statistic superficially at least appears a rather low proportion of student numbers. Comparatively few entering students see the need to entirely withdraw from their course. However, the group as defined is not the only group of students who experience difficulty. Clearly there are also those who withdraw partially; those who "soldier on" whilst recognising they are struggling: those who fail; those for whom problems arise after formal withdrawal dates; and so forth. While the figures for this particular group are low, it is probably wise not to become complacent.

With respect to the group studied, it is worth examining the variables which have appeared important. Are they variables which in any way reflect poorly upon the university? In this study, there were two broad categories on entering student whose problems were such that they withdrew. The first was the younger student who discovered after entry that the course did not suit. The second was the older student who learned that extraneous variables made it difficult to meet the demands of their course of study.

Are these issues acceptable? It is hard to put a case that they are not. The university's selection process takes little or no account of such issues. Selection for courses is conducted on academic grounds. It is widely acknowledged that course entry criteria are by no means perfect - and that consequently there will be some "error rate" in selection. In the context of the numbers entering, it is hardly surprising that some find the course unsuitable or unmanageable.

Related questions are to do with predictability and responsibility. If we may assume that a small proportion of students will withdraw for the reasons shown, how predictable is this and who is responsible for making such a prediction? Could any of these students known in advance that their enrolment was not going to work out and thus avoided the inconveniences of enrolment and subsequent withdrawal? Is the university responsible for providing "risk-factor" information to potential students?

These questions are beyond the scope of this study. The students in question did not appear to discover the problems associated with their enrolment until they had experienced the reality of being at the university. It is conceivable that many entered their course with some misgivings but thought it was worth a try. Equally likely is the hypothesis that the difficulties which appeared were a complete surprise. Further research may be able to address the question.

It is nonetheless worth considering whether the university could have legitimately intervened to make any difference to the withdrawals in any cost effective way. Intervention may occur at pre-enrolment and post-enrolment. Typically, pre-enrolment interventions consist of information provided to students about the university. Such information as is available to potential students has a recruitment and marketing function. As such, information about failure, withdrawal, risk factors and the like would sit uneasily with the rest of the content. Nonetheless, there may be an acceptable way of introducing appropriate consumer-style information to incoming students which will help them to assess whether proceeding with their enrolment is likely to have a positive outcome.

Post-enrolment interventions may also occur. Institutions and faculties within institutions vary widely in the quality of transition support. Some consideration may be given to the nature and timing of orientation procedures. It may also be worth devoting attention to on-going support to new students.

Clearly, this study provides very limited data upon which to base any conclusions about attrition in general. There are some further research questions which would help form a better picture of the issue. A first and obvious question is the extent to which the group studied is typical. That is, if we surveyed withdrawing students over a number of years, would the same picture emerge? (A related and highly important question is the extent to which the questionnaire used is a valid instrument. This question is beyond the scope of this discussion). It would be unwise to assume the opinions expressed by this small sample to be representative. It would also be interesting to learn whether students who withdraw are different in any way from other students. If were to ask similar questions of those who persist, those who fail, those who are terminated, International students, and so forth, would we see a difference? If students who experience problems are hard to distinguish from those who do not, it is hard to imagine any effective intervention.

The most suggestive information from this study is that older and younger students very likely experience quite different issues in the early weeks and months of university enrolment. Further research may possibly focus on whether this is indeed so, and how the university may address such different needs. There may be alternate approaches to orientation activities and first semester support which may make a worthwhile difference to incoming students.

Acknowledgements

The cooperation and advice of staff members of the University Counselling Services, Curtin University of Technology, is gratefully acknowledged.

Appendices

Attached are:
  1. A copy of the questionnaire used in the telephone survey.
  2. A copy of the instructions provided for the interviewer.

Questionnaire on student withdrawal

Instructions for the interviewer conducting the telephone survey

  1. Identify yourself and the fact you are calling on behalf of University Counselling Services.

  2. State that we are conducting a confidential survey of students who have withdrawn from their course - and that the student's cooperation for 5-10 minutes in helping with the survey would be appreciated. Make it clear you are not selling anything.

  3. Acknowledge that their action in withdrawing is not uncommon, and that we are seeking to understand better why students do so.

  4. Conduct interview schedule.
    Question 1 - Reasons for Withdrawal - state that you are going to go through a brief checklist of possible reasons he/she may have had for withdrawing. Ask the client to state whether an item was involved in his/her decision to withdraw. If it was, place a tick next to that item. If there are other reasons not on the checklist, add them as uncodable responses.

    Questions 2 & 3 - ask as they are on the questionnaire

  5. Thank the student and advise him/her that they may discuss any issue arising from this survey with a counsellor if they wish. Advise them how to make an appointment - by telephoning the service on 351 7850, or in person at building 109.

  6. Place the student's name and student number on the questionnaire so that data may be matched to data supplied by the statistics office.

Selected bibliography on transition and attrition issues

Empirical Studies

Aitken, N.D. (1982). "College Student Performance, Satisfaction and Retention", Journal of Higher Education, 53(1), 32-50.

Anderson, E. (1985). "Forces Influencing Student Persistence and Achievement", in Noel, L., et. al., Increasing Student Retention, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, pp. 44-61.

Astin, A.W. (1964). "Personal and Environmental Factors Associated With College Dropouts Among High Aptitude Students", Journal of Educational Psychology, 55 (4), 219-27.

Attinasi, L.C. (1989). "Getting In: Mexican Americans' Perceptions of University Attendance and the Implications for Freshman Year Persistance", Journal of Higher Education, 60, 3, 247-277.

Bardsley, W.N., and Gallagher, A. P. (1987). Great Expectations: A Study of Cross-Sectoral Transfer from TAFE to Higher Education in Western Australia, Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, Perth.

Baumgart, N.L., and Johnstone, J.N. (1977). "Attrition at an Australian University: A Case Study", Journal of Higher Education, 48(5), 553-70.

Blanc, R.A., DeBuhr, L.E., and Martin, D.C. (1983). "Breaking the Attrition Cycle: The Effects of Supplemental Instruction on Undergraduate Performance and Attrition", Journal of Higher Education, 54 (1), 80-90.

Brower, A.M. (1992). "The 'Second Half' of Student Integration: The Effects of Life Task Predominance on Student Persistence", Journal of Higher Education, 63, 4, 441-462.

Cope, R., and Hannah, W. (1975). Revolving College Doors: The Causes and Consequences of Dropping Out, Stopping Out, and Transferring, John Wiley, New York.

De Rome, E., and Lewin, T. (1984). "Predicting Persistence at University from Information Obtained at Intake, Higher Education, 13, 49-66.

Hannah, J.S., and Kahn, S.E. (1989). "The Relationship of Socioeconomic Status and Gender to the Occupational Choice of Grade 12 Students", Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 34(2), 161-178.

Isaacs, G. (1977). "Students Starting the Year", Vestes, 20 (1), 16-19.

Johnes, J., and Taylor, J. (1989). "Undergraduate non-completion rates: Differences between UK universities", Higher Education, 18, 209-225.

Johnes, J., and Taylor, J. (1991). "Non-completion of a Degree Course and its Effect on the Subsequent Experience of Non-completers in the Labour Market", Studies in Higher Education, 16, 1, 73-82.

Kempner, K., and Kinnick, M. (1990). "Catching the Window of Opportunity: Being on Time for Higher Education", Journal of Higher Education, 61, 5, 535-547.

Knox, W.E., Lindsay, P., and Kolb, Mary N. (1992). "Higher Education, College Characteristics, and Student Experiences: Long-Term Effects on Educational Satisfactions and Perceptions", Journal of Higher Education, 63, 3, 303-328.

Kohen A.I., Nestel, G., and Karmas, C. (1978). "Factors Affecting Individual Persistence Rates in Undergraduate College Programs", American Educational Research Journal, 15(2), 233-52.

Latona, J.R. (1989). "Consistency of Holland Code and Its Relation to Persistence in a College Major", Journal of Vocational Behaviour, 34, 253-265.

Lewandowski, K., Powell, J.P., and White, R. (1977). "Wastage Among Successful Students at the University of New South Wales: 1974-1975", Vestes, 20 (1), 29-32.

Colin Macdonald (1995). What Do New Students Gain From a One Week Orientation Program? Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 5, April , 4-14.

Medlin, H. (1976). "The Transition from School to University Study", Vestes, 19 (1), 39-42.

Mills, A.J., and Molloy, S.T. (1989). "Experiencing the Experienced: the impact of non-standard entrants upon a programme of higher education", Studies in Higher Education, 14 (1), 41-54.

Parsons, P.G., and Meyer, J.H.F. (1990). "The Academically 'At Risk' Student: A Pilot Intervention Programme and Its Observed Effects on Learning Outcome", Higher Education, 20, 3, 323-334.

Peng, S.S., and Fetters, W.B. (1978). "Variables Involved in Withdrawing During the First Two Years of College: Preliminary Findings from the National Longitudinal Study of the High School Class of 1972", American Educational Research Journal, 15 (3), 361-72.

Rees, D. (1981). "A Levels, Age and Degree Performance", Higher Education Review, 13 (3), 45-57.

Richardson, R.C., and Skinner, E.F. (1990). "Adapting to Diversity: Organizational Influences on Student Achievement", Journal of Higher Education, 61(5), 485-511.

Williams, C., and Ainsworth, G. (1977). "Influences Affecting Student Discontinuations", Vestes, 20 (1), 20-23.

Theoretical Views

Bean, J.P., and Metzner, B.S. (1985). "A Conceptual Model of Nontraditional Undergraduate Student Attrition", Review of Educational Research, 55(4), 485-540.

Cabrara, A., Castaneda, M.B., Nora, A., and Hengstler, D. (1992). "The Convergence Between Two Theories of College Persistence", Journal of Higher Education, 63, 2, 143-164.

Moos, R.H. (1979). Evaluating Educational Environments, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Pascarella, E.T., and Terenzini, P.T. (1980). "Predicting Freshman Persistence and Voluntary Dropout Decisions from a Theoretical Model", Journal of Higher Education, 51(1), 60-75.

Pascarella, E.T., Terenzini, P.T., and Wolfle, L.M. (1986). "Orientation to College and Freshman Year Persistence/Withdrawal Decisions", Journal of Higher Education, 57(2), 155-175.

Rubin, S. (1988). "College Freshman: Turmoil or Maturity?", Adolescence, 23 (91), 585-91.

Tierney, W.G. (1992). "An Anthropological Analysis of Student Participation in College", Journal of Higher Education, 63, 6, 603-618.

Tindle, E. (1996). On Becoming an Undergraduate: Transition to University, Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 7, April , 3-22.

Tinto, V. (1975). "Dropout from Higher Education: A Theoretical Synthesis of Recent Research", Review of Educational Research, 45 (1), 89-125.

Tinto, V. (1988). "Stages of Student Departure: Reflections on the Longitudinal Character of Student Leaving", Journal of Higher Education, 50 (4), 438-55.

Van Overwalle, F. (1989). "Success and failure of freshmen at university: a search for determinants", Higher Education, 18, 287-309.

Reports

Anderson, D.S., and Vervoorn, A.E. (1983). Access to Privilege: Patterns of Participation in Australian Post-Secondary Education, Australian National University Press, Canberra.

Anderson, D.S., Boven, R., Fensham, P.J., and Powell, J.P. (1978). Students in Australian Higher Education Since the Abolition of Fees, Tertiary Education Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Brennan, J. (1990). Review of Admissions to Higher Education: Policy and Practice by O. Filton and S. Ellwood, in Studies Higher Education, 15, 2, 244-45.

Burnhill, P., and McPherson, A. (1983). "The Scottish University and Undergraduate Expectations, 1971-1981", Universities Quarterly, 37 (3), 253-70.

Clark, E.E. (1989). "The importance of a comprehensive advising system in improving student retention and graduation rates", Australian Universities' Review, 1, 27-29.

Dawson, R.W.K., and Bush, K.J. (1977). "Orientation Procedures: A Counselling Service View", Vestes, 20 (1), 6-9.

De Rome, E.A. (1981). Students' Choice of Course and Use of Information and Advisory Services, Tertiary Education Research Centre, University of New South Wales.

Dunkin, M.J. (1990). "The Induction of Academic Staff to a University: Processes and Products", Higher Education, 20, 47-66.

Eaton, E. (1979). The Phenomenon of Student Withdrawal at Universities in Australia: A Review of Literature Concerning Factors Associated with Academic Performance and Discontinuance, Australian National University, Canberra.

Elliott, J.S. (1994). Orientation and Transition Takes More Than a Week: What Universities Can Do About It, Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 3, March, 15-19.

Peter Hanley (1996). Assisting First Year Students to Develop Effective Study Habits, Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association, 7, April , 23-29.

Hore, T., and West, L.H.T., (Eds) (1980). Mature Age Students in Australian Higher Education, Higher Education Advisory and Research Unit, Monash University, Melbourne.

Lewis, I. (1984). The Student Experience of Higher Education, Croom Helm, London.

Leo, H.T., West, T.H., and Eaton, E., (Eds) (1980). Research on Mature Age Students in Australia: Report of a workshop of researchers conducted at Monash University, Higher Education Advisory and Research Unit, Monash University.

McDonell, W. (1975). Testing for Student Selection at Tertiary Level: A Literature Review, A.C.E.R., Melbourne.

McInnis, C., James, R., and McNaught, C. (1995). First Year on Campus: Diversity in the initial experiences of Australian undergraduates, Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne.

McKevitt, O. (1978). "Why Do Students Attend University?", Vestes, 21 (2), 28-32.

Noel, L., Levitz, R., and Saluri, D. (1985). Increasing Student Retention, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Porter, O.F. (1991). "Where Do We Go from Here: Looking Beyond Student Aid and Access to Persistence", New Directions for Higher Education, 74, 75-91.

Powell, J.P. (1979). "From School to University", The Australian Journal of Education, 23 (2), 113-20.

Power, C., Robertson, F., and Baker, M. (1987). Success in Higher Education, Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, AGPS, Canberra.

Review of Efficiency and Effectiveness in Higher Education, (1986). Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, A.G.P.S., Canberra.

Richardson, R.C., and Skinner, E.F. (1990). "Adapting to Diversity: Organizational Influences on Student Achievement", Journal of Higher Education, 61(5,) 485-511.

Roe, E., Foster, G., Moses, I., Sanker, M., and Storey, P. (1982). A Report on Student Services in Tertiary Education in Australia, Commonwealth Tertiary Education Commission, Canberra.

Selection for Higher Education: A discussion of issues and possibilities, (1986). Commonwealth Department of Education, Canberra.

Sheldrake, P. ( 1976). "Failure and Withdrawal: Student Dropout at Flinders University", Vestes, 19(2), 25-29.

Steltenpohl, E., and Shipton, J. (1986). "Facilitating a Successful Transition to College for Adults", Journal of Higher Education, 57 (6), 637-58.

Student Counselling: Preparation, Role, Functions and Status, (1973). Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Student Counselling, Department of Higher Education, University of London.

Walker, B.S. (1988). "Vocational Indecision and the Antecedents of the Vocational Preferences of Year 12 Students", Research and Development Paper No. 9, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Walker, B.S., and Warwick-James, J. (1988). "Survey of Sources of Students' Finance - University of New South Wales", Walker, B.S., Research and Development Paper No. 10, University of New South Wales, Sydney.

Weil, S.W. (1986). "Non-traditional Learners Within Traditional Higher Education Institutions: discovery and disappointment", Studies in Higher Education, 11 (3), 219-235.

Williams, C., and Pepe, T. (1983). The Early Experiences of Students on Australian College of Advanced Education Campuses, The University of Sydney, Sydney.

Material directed at Students

Elliott,J.S. (1990). Hang in There!: Making It at University, Curtin University, Perth.

Gerow, J.R., and Lyng, R.D. (1975). How to Succeed in College: A Student Handbook, Charles Scribner, New York.

Hall, W.C. (1985). Being A Successful Student: A Guide to Success at College and University, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne, 1985.

Langam, J., and Nadell, J. (1980). Doing Well in Collge: A Concise Guide to Reading, Writing and Study Skills, McGraw-Hill, New York.

Lenz, E., and Shaevitz, M.H. (1977). So You Want to Go Back to School: Facing the Realities of Re-entry, McGraw-Hill, New York.

McEvedy, M.R., and Jordan, M. (1986). Succeeding at University and College, Nelson, Melbourne.

McKowan, C. (1979). Get Your "A" Out of College: Mastering the Hidden Rules of the Game, Kaufmann, Los Altos, California.

Marshall, L.A., and Rowland, F. (1981). A Guide to Learning Independently, Longman Cheshire, Melbourne.

Maxwell, M. (1980). Improving Student Learning Skills, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

Murphy, E. (1987). Curtin Up! An Insider's Guide to Outrageously Successful Study, Curtin University of Technology, Perth.

Orr, F. (1988). How To Succeed At Part-Time Study, Allen and Unwin, Sydney.

Raahaim, K., and Wankowski, J. (1981). Helping Students to learn at University, Sigma Forlag, Bergen.

Talley, J.E., and Henning, L.H. (1981). Study Skills, Thomas, Springfield.

Thackray, C., and Thackray, M. (1979). How To Succeed at College or University, Thackray Publishing, Sydney

Young, P. (1982). From Schoolyard to Campus: Transition from School to Tertiary Study, Sound Information, Sydney.

Please cite as: Elliott, J. (1997). Early student withdrawal: The reasons students give for leaving the university. In Pospisil, R. and Willcoxson, L. (Eds), Learning Through Teaching, p78-99. Proceedings of the 6th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, Murdoch University, February 1997. Perth: Murdoch University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1997/elliott.html


[ TL Forum 1997 Proceedings Contents ] [ TL Forums Index ]
HTML: Roger Atkinson, Teaching and Learning Centre, Murdoch University [rjatkinson@bigpond.com]
This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf1997/elliott.html
Last revision: 31 Mar 2002. Murdoch University
Previous URL 20 Jan 1997 to 31 Mar 2002 http://cleo.murdoch.edu.au/asu/pubs/tlf/tlf97/ellio.html