Link found between university drop-out rates and student behavioural preferences

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Student withdrawal from university can be linked to student behavioural preferences according to a recent research study from Thomas International and Leeds Beckett University.

These findings are published as the latest report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF) shows a rise in national university drop-out rates from 6.6% in 2011-12 to 7.4% in 2014-15 and identifies the need to manage the rise of withdrawals.

A study of first-year students at Leeds Beckett University used psychometric assessments to measure the behavioural preferences of students and explore the relationship of this with university withdrawal in the first year of study.

Using the results of the Personal Profile Analysis (PPA), a behavioural assessment tool, the study found that students who withdrew were more likely to have a preference for detailed instructions and procedures and a tendency to be reserved and quiet. The transition into higher education can fundamentally change the student experience with new teaching styles, focused on self-directed learning, and a requirement to build new social and support networks. The findings suggest that students who find it more difficult to adjust to these changes might have an increased likelihood of withdrawing.

The research showed another relationship between student pathways and university success, with students who moved to the university from geographically further away achieving higher grades.

As a result of these findings, Leeds Beckett University have been able to identify the factors that may contribute to student attrition and generate more targeted interventions. Additionally, the PPA helps develop students’ confidence and self-awareness of strengths by detailing their behavioural preferences. This information also assists tutors to understand the values, motivations and fears of their students enabling them to provide personalised support for students.

Claire Aydogan, Head of Careers at Leeds Beckett University, comments that "utilising the PPA has brought many benefits to Leeds Beckett students. First and foremost, enabling our students to clearly articulate to potential employers what skills and strengths they can bring to organisations. Most importantly it has enabled us to identify several students who needed additional support and would have been at risk of withdrawing." 

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Reuben Conibear

Reuben Conibear

Reuben has worked in the Marketing team at Thomas for just over 3 and half years. As Marketing Executive, Reuben's core focus is to ensure a high quality experience for Thomas customers at all times. In his spare time, Reuben enjoys kayaking, bouldering and spending time with his friends and family.