Learn how to use the Postsecondary Data Partnership Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard to understand the fall-to-spring retention rates for first-time students.

In this tutorial, we demonstrate how to use the PDP Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard to understand the fall-to-spring retention rates for first-time students.​

The Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard reports the retention and persistence rates for student cohorts after each term during their first two academic years for up to eight consecutive terms. This data may reveal stop-out behavior during a student’s first two academic years. Stop-out is when a student fails to enroll in one term but re-enrolls at a later term. At the institution level, stop-out behaviors result in enrollment declines for a term and increases in the following term.​

What is the difference between retention and persistence?  ​

Retention describes how many students are still enrolled at or have earned a credential from your institution per term. This is a measure of how well your institution retains students and highlights at what point students are dropping out or transferring.​

​Persistence describes how many students are still enrolled  at or have completed a credential at another institution per term. This definition may differ from how your institution defines persistence. Check with your institution’s PDP administrator if you have questions about how your institution defines persistence.​

Let’s use this dashboard to answer this research question: ​

What is the difference in fall-to-spring retention rates for first-time, full-time students compared to first-time, part-time students?​

Before we continue, please remember that the results and trends shown in this tutorial can not be applied to your institution. This data is only for demonstration purposes. Please review your institution’s data before drawing conclusions.​

On the Home Page for the PDP dashboards, one of the Outcomes-Over-Time metrics is the Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard. Clicking this icon takes us to the dashboard.​

To explore the retention rates of first-time students, we need to set two global filters.​

First, let’s click the “Enrollment Type” global filter, deselect “All”, select “First-Time”, and click “Apply”.​

Next, since we’re interested in fall-to-spring retention rates, let’s leave the Cohort Term filter set to “Fall”. ​

Before we look at fall-to-spring retention rates, let’s focus our attention on the vertical stacked bar chart in the lower right.  ​

Hovering over the top bar in the 2018-19 cohort, we see that 32% of the cohort were retained, 5% transferred out and persisted at another institution, and 63% were not retained or persisted.​

Now, let’s examine the line chart that shows term-to-term retention and persistence rates.  This chart has two unique filters. Let’s leave the cohort filter set at 2018-19 and the retention/persistence filter set at retention.​

In the line chart, Term 1 represents Fall 2018 while Term 3 represents Spring 2019.  Hovering over the Spring 2019 data point, we find that 76.4% of the student cohort who entered in the fall of 2018 retained at our institution in Spring 2019.​

​Now, let’s find out if students who attend college full-time are more likely, or less likely to retain, than students who attend college part-time. To find this answer, we need to apply a dimension. Click “Select Dimension” and select “Attendance”.​

Two things happen. First, in the line chart, we see three lines appear; one for full-time students, one for part-time students, and one for those whose attendance is unknown. To make the charts easier to read, let’s filter out the Unknown attendance data. To do that, click the “Attendance” global filter, deselect “Unknown”, and click “Apply”.​

Now we’re ready to evaluate the data in the line chart.  ​

Hovering over Term 3 which is spring 2019 data point for full-time students, we find their fall-to-spring retention rate is 83.1%. And hovering over the spring 2019 data point for part-time students, we find their fall-to-spring retention rate is 67.2%. This is a 16-percentage point gap in retention rates.​

Understanding which student populations have lower retention rates is critical to our efforts to improve retention and completion rates at our institution. ​

Thank you for joining us.​