Beyond demographics: Predicting student attrition within the Bachelor of Arts degree
Type of Publication: Journal article
Lead Organisation: La Trobe University
Year Published: 2014
Lead Researcher: Andrew Harvey
Written by Andrew Harvey and Michael Luckman, La Trobe University
Published in The International Journal of the First Year in Higher Education Vol 5 Issue 1
This paper examines factors linked to first year attrition within the Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree at an Australian university. Drawing on a broad range of institutional data, the authors considered correlations between attrition and several variables. Our research revealed the need to move beyond analysis of geo-demographic factors towards indicators of student choice and educational achievement. While few demographic factors were found to be strong indicators of attrition, two other factors were clearly correlated. These factors – course preference, and first year educational performance – were significant predictors of attrition. Because subject failure is the single strongest predictor of attrition, and because the BA offers a wide range of subjects, developing strategies to ensure consistency and quality across those subjects is imperative.