Student Retention Toolkit


Retention is everyone’s business. We all, as employees of Pierpont Community & Technical College, are responsible for creating an environment that is conducive to student success. We can all have a hand in seeing our students succeed in the classroom and on campus. With that in mind, we thought that a few ideas/suggestions for student retention would be helpful for faculty.
Research has shown that students who engage with their college are more likely to succeed and stay enrolled. Engagement comes in many forms both in and out of the classroom. At community colleges, the classroom is where students primarily engage with the college and interaction with faculty is the most critical form of engagement. Research has also shown that for many students, their faculty instructor is the college. The interaction between students and faculty influences student retention perhaps more than any other connection they have on campus. And as a representative of the college, faculty members can facilitate other important connections on campus for students.
Please forward ideas or best practices to us so we can add them to the list. We view this as a “living” document that can be updated at any time. If you know of any other research that is applicable, please let us know so that we can add them to the list of resources at the bottom of this page.  


Learn the name of each student as quickly as possible and use the student’s name in class.
At the end of each class, ask one student to stay for a minute to chat (compliment them on something; tell them you missed them if they were absent).
Conduct individual, in-person meetings with each student at some point in the semester
Provide feedback early in the semester and often conduct individual, in-person meetings with each student at some point in the semester.
Ask students to pick up quizzes, tests, or assignments from your office instead of in class. This creates a chance to speak with students one-on-one and informally.
Contact students if they miss class.
Seek feedback from your students periodically.
Provide feedback early and often.
Attend your students’ extracurricular events and programs.
Lend some of your books and resources, and share useful websites.  Seek recommendations from them.
Provide your phone number, email, and office hours.
Pair students during the first class meeting and switch every five minutes to help them get to know one another.
Give respectful answers to all questions and provide positive reinforcement whenever possible.
Add to student ideas instead of dismissing them out of hand.
If a student tells you something in confidence, respect that confidence and avoid making value judgments. (In case of emergencies, contact appropriate emergency service.)
Participate in Faculty Advising.
Develop inclusive learning environments 
Keep attendance.
Get to know campus resources both for extracurricular opportunities and for needed referrals.
Recognize and celebrate student successes.
Keep expectations clear and high.
Incorporate technology in communicating with students. Provide expectations for communicating with faculty over email. Set class standards for social media interactions.
Incorporate High-Impact Practices when possible.
Provide a showcase for student projects. Invite family and friends.
Encourage continuing students to register early for the next semester


Center for the Study of College Student Retention 
A collection of recent research and findings related to college student retention and issues related to student attrition.
Classroom Strategies for Fostering Student Retention (Lansing Community College)
Twelve strategies with explanations for how faculty can improve student retention. Developed by Lansing Community College.
Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) 
A survey of the engagement of community college students. The site provide survey results and tools for using results. Madison College participates in this survey.
High-Impact Practices (HIP)
High-impact practices, part of an American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) initiative, aid student learning through active participation and involvement. Many institutions have recently cited as HIPs when developing new student programs.   
National Academic Advising Association (NACADA) 
NACADA is the professional organization for college academic advisors. The site includes a searchable clearinghouse of all aspects of academic advising, including faculty advising.
Consortium for Student Retention Data Exchange at the University of Oklahoma 
This is a consortium of two-year and four-year institutions sharing data and resources relevant to student retention and graduation. Madison College is a member of the consortium.
ACT. (2010). What works in student retention? Fourth national survey. Report for all colleges and universities. ACT, Inc.
Astin, A (1984). Student involvement:  A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308.
Berger, J.B. (2001). Understanding the organizational nature of student persistence; Recommendation for practice. Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, & Practice, 2, 2-33.
Borglum, K. & Kubala, T. (2000). Academic and social integration of community college students: A case study. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 24, 567-576.
Braxton, J. Bray, N., & Berger, J. (2000). Faculty teaching skills and their influence on the college student departure process. Journal of College Student Development, 41, 215-227.
Braxton, J., Hirschy, A., & McClendon, S. (2004). Understanding and reducing college student departure. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report: Volume 30, Number 3.
Johnson, N., Earnest, K., Huntley, H., Hensen, K., Reason, R., Saunders, K., & Schuh, J.H., (Eds.). (2004-2005). Retention and persistence issues of historically underrepresented students. Special issue of Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, & Practice, 6(1).
Kinzie, J. (2005). Promoting student success: What faculty members can do (Occasional Paper No. 6). Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Center for Postsecondary Research.
Lotkowski, V.A., Robbing, S.B., & Noeth, R.J. (2004). The role of academic and non-academic factors in improving college retention. ACT Policy Report. Iowa City, IA: American College Testing.
National Center for Education Statistics (2005). College persistence on the rise? Change in 5-year degree completion and postsecondary persistence rates between 1994 and 2000. National Center for Education Statistics, Statistical Analysis Report 2005-156. Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement.
Seidman, A. (Ed). (2005). College student retention: formula for student success. Westport, CT: ACE/Praeger.
Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd Ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Terenzini, P. T., & Pascarella, E. T. How college affects students. vol. 2, A third decade of research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Tinto, v. (1998). College as communities: Taking the research on student persistence seriously. Review of Higher Education, 21, 167-178.
Tinto, V. (2002). Taking Student Retention Seriously: Rethinking the First Year of College. In Annual Meeting of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Tinto, V. (2005). Epilogue: Moving from theory to action. In A. Seidman (Ed.). College student retention: Formula for student success. Westport, CT: ACE Praeger.
Tinto, V. (2007). Research and practice of student retention: What next? Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, 8(1), 1-19.
Umbach, P., & Wawrzynski, M. (2005). Faculty do matter: The role of college faculty in student learning and engagement. Research in Higher Education, 46, 153-184.