Learn the difference between retention and persistence and get a general overview of the Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard.
This is the introduction and basic functionality tutorial for the National Student Clearinghouse’s Postsecondary Data Partnership Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard. Thank you for joining us.
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 stopping 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.
How does the PDP determine retention and persistence? Let’s look at this through a decision tree.
The first question in our decision tree is did the student complete their credential during the first term of enrollment at our institution?
If yes, the student is considered “retained”.
If No, we continue to follow our decision tree.
The next question in our decision tree is did the student enroll in college for a successive term after entering our institution? There are three possible answers.
First, if the student enrolled at our institution, they are classified as “retained”.
Second, if another institution submits an enrollment record for the student to the Clearinghouse, the student is classified as “persisted.” The ability to leverage the unique nationwide data coverage of the Clearinghouse and incorporate enrollment is one of the strengths of the PDP dashboards.
The third option is that the student is no longer enrolled in college.
How does the Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard compare to the Retention/Persistence Institution-Level dashboard?
The Retention/Persistence Institution-Level dashboard provides first-to-second year retention and persistence rates, while the Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard provides a view of retention and persistence after each academic term for two years after a student enrolls at your institution. This allows you to identify the terms where students enroll or stop out/transfer.
The Retention/Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard has several unique global and chart-specific filters.
The first filter is the “Cohort Term” global filter. Global filters affect all of the dashboard charts. The Cohort Term filter allows you to select the term when students entered your institution. There are four academic terms to choose from: Fall, Spring, Summer, and Winter.
Typically, most students enter in the fall term. The second largest enrollment term for most institutions is spring, followed by summer, then winter.
Now, let’s discuss the dashboard’s labels. To demonstrate this, let’s use the dashboard chart that shows the retention/persistence rate by term.
If we select “Fall” from the Cohort Term filter, then the dashboard labels the academic year’s terms as follows: Fall is Term 1, winter is Term 2, spring is Term 3, and summer is Term 4.
The pattern continues for the second academic year.
However, if we select “Spring” from the Cohort Term filter, the dashboard labels the first academic year’s terms as follows: spring is Term 1, summer is Term 2, fall is Term 3, and winter is Term 4. The pattern continues for the second academic year.
The “Term Name” global filter is unique to this dashboard. This filter allows you to remove one or more academic terms if those terms are not relevant to your institution.
For example, if your institution does not enroll students in the winter term, you could deselect “Winter” from the filter to remove that term from the dashboard.
Let’s explore how the Term Name filter can impact our term-to-term data.
First, let’s keep all four terms in the Term Name filter selected AND let’s set the Cohort Term to Fall. In our term-to-term chart, we would see eight terms: Term 1 is fall, Term 2 is winter, Term 3 is spring, Term 4 is summer, and the pattern continues for the second academic year.
However, if we deselect “Winter” from the Term Name filter, which removes “Winter” from our dashboard, then we have six terms represented in our term-to-term visualization.
Year 1 has three terms: Term 1 is Fall, Term 3 is Spring, and Term 4 is Summer, and Year 2 follows the same sequence.
There are two other filters that are unique to this dashboard:
The “Select Cohort” filter allows you to choose a cohort to view its retention and/or persistence rate. You can choose from six consecutive years.
The “Retention/Persistence “filter allows you to choose to view the retention rate, persistence rate, or both.
Now, let’s look at the dashboard.
Before we continue, please remember that the results and trends shown in this tutorial cannot be applied to your institution. This data is only for demonstration purposes. Please review your institution’s data before drawing conclusions.
This is the Home Page for the PDP dashboards. The Retention and Persistence Term-to-Term dashboard is one of the Outcomes-Over-Time metrics. Clicking this icon takes us to the dashboard.
In the upper right corner of the dashboard, we see the Cohort Term filter that we discussed earlier. This is the entry academic term for students whom we want to study. Most students enter in the fall, followed by spring, then summer, then winter.
Below the Cohort Term filter are the dashboard’s global filters. These include metrics like Attendance, Age Group, and Pell Grant Status. Applying one or more filters allows us to focus on a specific student population like younger part time students who have received Pell Grants.
In the top left, we find the framing questions for this dashboard. Here, we learn that this dashboard measures the proportion of students who retain, persist, or stop-out from one term to the next for up to eight consecutive terms.
Also in this section, we find the dimensions for this dashboard, which are the same as the global filters.
We also find the Term Name filter that we discussed earlier. Here, we can remove one or more academic terms that are not relevant to our institution.
The chart in the upper right is a line chart that measures the term-to-term retention/persistence rates of student cohorts for up to eight consecutive terms or two academic years.
Also, in this section, we find the two filters we discussed earlier: Select Cohort and Retention/Persistence.
Select Cohort allows us to select a cohort to view. Let’s leave the cohort set at 2018-19.
The Retention/Persistence filter allows us to toggle between Retention, Persistence, or both. Let’s leave the filter set at “Retention”.
This line chart shows the percentage of students who entered in the fall of 2018 and retained at our institution over eight terms or two academic years.
Let’s click “Term Name”, deselect “Winter,” and click “Apply”. Now our line chart only shows six terms because we excluded the Winter term. Let’s leave these filters set and explore the data in the line chart:
Since Cohort Term is set to “Fall”, we know that Term 1 is the fall of 2018. If we hover over that data point, we see that 98.9% of students were retained in that term.
Hovering over the Term 3 data point, we see that 76.2% were retained in the Spring 2019 term. This is an example of the stop-out behavior that we discussed earlier. In this case, some fall 2018 students stopped-out and did not enroll for the spring term.
Moving on, if we hover over the Term 4 data point, which is the Summer 2019 term, we see that 26.8% of students were retained in that term. While some students take summer courses, a lot of students stop-out over the summer term then re-enroll in the fall term.
Now, let’s look at the second academic year, which starts at Term 5 or the fall term of 2019. Hovering over that data point, we see that 58.1% of the students who started in Term 1, which was the Fall of 2018, retained to the Fall of 2019.
Hovering over Term 7 which was the spring of 2020 we see that 49% of students were retained in that term.
And for Term 8 or the summer of 2020, we see that 32.5% of students were retained in that term.
Now, let’s change the Retention/Persistence filter to “Persistence”. Notice how the line changed? This line now represents the percentage of students who entered in the fall of 2018 then transferred out to another institution.
For Term 3, which is the Spring of 2019, that value is 2.3%, and for Term 8, which is the Summer of 2020, the value is 6.7%.
Let’s change the Retention/Persistence filter to “Retention/Persistence”. Notice how the line changed again? This line now represents the students who entered in the fall 2018 and either retained at our institution or persisted at another institution over two academic years.
Hovering over Term 3 or the spring of 2019, we see that 78.5% of students retained or persisted in that term and, for Term 8 or Summer of 2020, 39.2% retained or persisted.
Now, let’s examine the chart in the lower left, which is a bar chart. Notice that along the x-axis are academic years and not terms. This bar chart reports the number of students who are not retained or persisted by cohort year in their second year of college. Hovering over the 2018-19 bar, we see that the percentage of students not enrolled in college for their second year was 61%.
In addition, there is a color overlay. A lighter color indicates fewer students who left college before their second year and did not earn a credential, and a darker color indicates more students who left college before their second year and did not earn a credential.
The chart in the lower right is an overall view of this dataset. It shows the percentage of each cohort who retained or persisted into their second year of college or left college before completing a credential before their second year. Each stacked bar adds up to 100%.
For 2018-19, we see that 61% of that cohort left college before earning a credential prior to their second year which mirrors the data that we saw in the bar chart in the lower left. In addition, 7% of that cohort transferred out and enrolled at another institution before their second year, and 33% of that cohort retained at our institution for their second year of college.
Now, let’s bring back the “Winter” term by clicking on “Term Name” and selecting “Winter”.
Now, let’s discuss the data behind the bottom two charts. The data reported in these two charts is the retention/persistence rates of the last term in the second academic year or Term 8.
For example, if “Fall” is selected in the Cohort Term filter, then the data shown for the 2018-19 cohort is the retention/persistence rate of Term 8 or the summer term of 2020.
But if we change the Cohort Term filter to “Spring”, then the data shown for the 2018-19 cohort is the retention/persistence rate of Winter 2021.
One of the strengths of these dashboards is the ability to customize the information based on your institution. Earlier we suggested that you might consider removing the Winter term if your institution does not enroll students in that term. However, if we remove the Winter Term from the dashboard then the bottom two charts will not populate since they are based on those data.
If we add the Winter term back in, then those charts now populate.
Let’s demonstrate this again. Let’s change the Cohort Term to “Fall” and remove the Summer Term which is Term 8. As we see, the bottom two charts do not populate since we removed Term 8. But if we add the Summer term back, then the charts repopulate.
This dashboard contains information about student retention and/or persistence rates from one term to the next over two academic years. Understanding these enrollment patterns helps us inform initiatives to increase retention, persistence, and completion rates.
Thank you for joining us.