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Student Retention 7.0

This article is the first of series presenting a 7-Component Retention Model (Beane, 2016) borrowing from Vincent Tinto’s Retention Model (Tinto, 1975).

The Retention 7.0 Model integrates non-cognitive factors based on the Dilts Logical Levels of Learning and Intervention (Dilts, 2016) which includes dispositional factors that must be considered in the overall quest for student achievement and success which include:

Identity (Who?),

Beliefs (values and assumptions [Why?]),

Capabilities (competence, skills [How?]),

Behavior (What/?, and

Environment (Where?).

 All students bring this life experience luggage with them to campus.

Dilts Nested Levels of Learning and Intervention Model – based on the levels of learning which are nestled beginning with identity; beliefs, values, assumptions; behaviors; environment. The recommendation for intervention for learning should occur at the level of identity and beliefs versus capabilities and behavior. When we intervene at the level of identity, we can influence beliefs and thereby capabilities and behaviors by creating learning environment community building.

The seven components are:

Early Alert System

Point-of-Contact Documentation System

Referral/ Feedback System

Academic Success Monitoring

Learning & Intervention Strategies

Collaboration System

Transition Support


This is represented by a continuing sequence of stages, tasks, or events illustrated in a circular flow. Emphasizing the connection between all components with equal weight given for each stage to yield desired outcomes. Each component will be explained later.


 Foundations for Effectiveness

The staff team accountable for retention of minorities, first generation students, at-risk students must develop a common identity and a teachable point of view for buy-in and ownership for the integration process based on a clear foundation for effectiveness. To do this the staff and faculty must come to the table to provide feedback and to build that common identity and the teachable point of view going forward. This ensures consistency in the team development and ownership in the foundations for effectiveness process which includes the team as well the students who are recipients of the interventions. Staff teams may involve: Multicultural or Diversity (special initiatives), federal Trio Program staff (McNair, Student Support Services, etc.), Counseling, Financial Aid, Learning Center(s) and other pertinent partnering programs and departments on campus by various names and last but not least faculty and developmental course faculty.

 This synergy of the following assumptions will facilitate a common identity and belief for integration based on the:


4 – Pillars of College Success: a) High expectations for students, b) Building Community and helping students learn how to work in groups; c) It takes a researcher to produce a researcher – that is an expert can produce another expert; d) People willing as faculty to work with students helping them to make the connections along the way. [Hrabrowski Freeman, Maryland University, STEM]

Growth Mindset – based on Carol Dweck’s research and belief that your basic qualities are things that you can cultivate through effort and everyone can change and grow through application and experience. (Stanford University)

Effectiveness - based on Peter Drucker’s leadership philosophy that everyone can learn to be effective.


To expand and perfect this concept and approach for synergy, collaboration and common identity, it is necessary to invite all minority staff and faculty to provide feedback to the foundations for effectiveness for a holistic view point that supports ownership from all servicing groups that will come along side and add-value to the process of equipping and retaining the target students.

Based on this 7-Component Retention construct, integration might be implemented as follows which included needs assessments, non-cognitive assessments, structured contacts, learning theories and strategies, building community and career and academic planning:

 1. Early Alert

  The Early Alert System involves getting a head start on the intervention window in the student life cycle in the first three (3) to six (6) weeks of the student’s first semester of the first year and progressively the same window of time in the student’s second year as the intervention window. This component involves Enrollment Services and the process of recruitment, enrollment, and orientation to campus life.

To get a head start in view of a student’s self-efficacy and academic self-concept the recommendation would be to engage students in an experience that intervenes at the level of their identity and beliefs, assumptions, and values (Dilts Nested Levels of Learning and Intervention Model). An intervention planned for the first weekend of the first week of classes [or prior to the first week of classes] is recommended. Since these factors play a major role in college retention it requires early alert.

This intervention initiative will build a learning community where the non-cognitive assessments will be conducted to inform and empower students at the level of identity and beliefs, assumptions, and values.

StrengthsFinder 2.0

Emotional Intelligence 2.0

Learning Styles Inventory

Multiple Intelligences

Personal Statement – Goal Statement for College completion – Growth Plan

ETS Assessment

These non-cognitive assessments present a context and content to coach students towards the pathway of self-efficacy as a foundation for academic engagement, social engagement, academic self- concept and a growth mindset through the student life cycle. The implementation would be during an early alert weekend.

The outcome of the intervention would be:

 Students discover their top five (5) strengths;

Students discover their emotional intelligence quotient and strategies to strengthen their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills;

Students identify their learning style preference; and

Students identify the predominant multiple intelligences how they impact their brain processing.

Students compose a personal statement of the short and long-term goals towards college completion.

Students learn and are equipped to leverage diversity and multiculturalism.

  2. Point-of-Contact Documentation

  This involves the content of Structured Contacts with the staff accountable for student retention, advising, and other university resources to maintain student monitoring and a common data base in support of the retention and intervention function.

Structured Contacts must be a major component of point-of-contact documentation for success monitoring in the context of a coaching approach rather than an academic advising approach. The coaching approach will always provide support from a goal oriented position with the goal of graduation as the end result. The coach approach provides a performance outcome based pathway for the retention support staff to develop skills in two major coaching areas: cognitive coaching and performance coaching which involve:


InsideOut Coaching (Performance Oriented)

Cognitive Coaching (Goal Oriented – Educational Thinking partners)

Peer-to- Peer Coaching

Peer-to-Peer Tutoring

Coachee’s Agenda – Students set the agenda as they learn the process


Faculty Office Hour Meeting(s) – Students will be required to set-up an Introductory Meeting with their course and major faculty and to facilitate and follow-up with Content and Progress Meetings with specific course faculty as appropriate for progress monitoring.

3. Referral/ Feedback System

This involves the collaboration with College and University resources that assist with the intrventions with support services to address the full spectrum of student needs for academic preparation, academic engagement and career preparation.


Writing Center

Center for Academic Achievement

Career Services

Library/ Learning Services

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Disability Services


Multicultural Services

Academic Advising

Student Life / Student Organizations


Career and Academic Planning must be an integral part of the foundations for effectiveness as students in the target populations are generally undecided or have decided on a major that is not aligned with identified strengths to ensure academic confidence and efficacy.

 4. Academic Success Monitoring System

Academic Success Monitoring involves following the student through the student life cycle and determining where interventions are necessary to foster persistence and to ensure retention of the target student(s) for completion of the respective program of study and the culminating outcome being established as graduation. This also involves point-of-contact documentation for common records.


Establish Student Common File(s)

Establish a personal three-five year strategic plan

Establish a Virtual Learning Community –utilizing the existing course software

Establish an Academic Plan for setting goals, objectives, and outcomes

Establish Academic Progress Reports at specific intervals to promote success

Establishing collaboration and partnerships with Faculty for gateway courses, general education requirements as well as academic major’s prerequisites


 5. Employ Learning and Intervention Strategies

This component assist students in navigating the college system through proven strategies both for learning and intervention levels to learn the “rules of engagement” in the academic system, social system, and progression through the systems.


Cooperative and collaborative learning group development for engagement in groups in the classroom and study groups outside the classroom. Providing support for informal cohorts to support the foundations for effectiveness especially a growth mindset.

Tutoring – utilizing the peer tutors to teach concept maps and thinking maps as learning techniques and tools. Promoting the Writing Center and Center for Academic Achievement and Math Centers as resources for learning and effectiveness.

StrengthsFinder Assessment

Emotional Intelligence Assessment

Multiple Intelligence Assessment

Study Groups and Study Hours

Mastering course software for Online Course work activity

Learning Theories and Intervention Strategies are an important component of the foundations of effectiveness. Staff, Faculty as wells Students in the target group need to have an understanding of these theories in the practical sense to help them to understand how they learn best and the best way to adapt to the academic culture in the classroom which involve:


Adult Learning Principles

Self-Directed Learning

Cooperative & Collaborative Learning

Thinking and Cognitive Maps

Dilts Nested Levels of Learning & Intervention

Braining Processing (Critical Thinking, Focus, Attention)


 6. College and University Resources Collaboration System

Ongoing collaboration and partnerships must be maintained between and among College and University support services to provide consistency of support for the spectrum of student needs which involve academic preparation and academic efficacy. In some instances as appropriate there should be a collaboration agreement prepared so that all staffs are operating from the same understandings in terms of referrals, study hours, and the opportunity for innovative arrangements that contribute to the emerging academic needs for the target populations:


Writing Center

Center for Academic Achievement

Career Services

Library/ Learning Services

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Disability Services


Multicultural Services/ Diversity Programs 

Academic Advising

Career Services

Student Life/ Student Organizations [Affinity Groups]


Career and Academic Planning is a major component in retention intervention strategies. Students in the target population need to be coached through the development of the following components of the foundations for effectiveness:


Career Exploration & Decision Making

A Growth Plan/ Personal Strategic Plan

A Personal Statement

An Academic Plan

Study Aboard Opportunities



7. Transition Support System

As a student transition through the student life cycle pass the early alert window there are some distinct supports that must be employed when following the foundations for effectiveness as a pathway for transition to completing a program of study with the culminating goal of graduation. Who students become is up to us. This function involves the staff team accountable for retention and graduation in collaboration with College and University Resources:

Building Community

The target group of students must experience a sense of belonging as they struggle with identity, roles and responsibility, integration into the academic culture and navigating the campus culture as a fluent participant accepting code-switching as a strategy to leverage their diversity on campus in preparation for a global society.


Multiculturalism as defined by the Student Services Handbook for the Profession states:

Multiculturalism is a state of being in which an individual feels comfortable and communicates effectively with people from any culture, in any situation, because she or he has developed the necessary knowledge and skills to do so.

The transition through building community has this outcome.

The foundations for effectiveness provides a non-cognitive layer which involves:


 Leadership Development


Group Development

Leveraging Diversity

Service Learning/ Experiential Learning/ Volunteerism

Faculty Mentoring

  Alumni Assessments is a critical component for a backend survey of students who complete their program of student and persist through the student life cycle at SVSU successfully. This information is critical to leveraging and learning from what the target population already does well and what the University is already doing well.


Graduate Survey of Minority and First Generation Students

Compile Stories of Target Students and what influenced their persistence

Compile Factors promoting Retention and program completion

Diagraming the Anatomy of Retaining Target Students


This action research will help to determine, who is successful and why? We can gain insight into how students perceive navigating the college system and replicate the findings using the foundations for effectiveness.

The next article in the series will unpack each of the seven components of Retention 7.0.


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