Prediction of Retention and Probation Status of First-Year College Students in Learning Communities Using Binary Logistic Regression Mode
Sperry, Rita A.
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The first year of college is a critical period of transition for incoming college students. Learning communities have been identified as an approach to link students together in courses that are intentionally integrated and designed with first-year students' needs in mind. Yet, learning community teaching teams are often not provided with data prior to the start of the semester about their students in order to target interventions. Also, it remains unclear as to which students are most benefitted by participating in learning communities. One question then becomes, what variables known on or before the first day of classes are predictive of first-year student success, in terms of retention and probation status, for first-year college students in learning communities? The correlational study employed univariate and multivariate analyses on pre-college data about three consecutive cohorts of first-year students in learning communities at a regional public university in South Texas. Logistic regression models were developed to predict retention and probation status without respect to learning community membership, as well as for each learning community category. Results indicated that group differences were not statistically significant based on either first-generation status or age for retention, while group differences were statistically significant for probation status on the basis of all of the pre-college variables except age. Although statistically significant differences were found among the learning community categories for each of the pre-college variables, there were no statistically significant group differences in their retention or probation rates. The model to predict retention regardless of learning community membership included five variables, while the model to predict probation status included eight variables. The models for each learning community contained different sets of predictor variables; the most common predictors of retention or probation status were high school percentile and orientation date. The study has practical implications for admissions officers, orientation planners, student support services, and learning community practitioners. It is recommended to replicate the study with more recent learning community cohorts and additional pre-college variables, as well as in programs across the nation, to contribute to the literature about the potential for learning communities to enhance first-year student success.