May 12, 2003

News Bytes
Institutional Research Spotlight: Students Who Complete Counseling 100 More Likely to Continue at De Anza

According to a recent Institutional Research & Planning (IR&P) study, students who completed Counseling 100: Orientation to College successfully returned to De Anza one year after entrance at a substantially higher rate than students who did not take the course or did not complete it successfully.

“While the study results do not take into account student ability or other factors that might be related to persistence, it does suggest an important association,” said IR&P Researcher Andrew LaManque. “It may be that students who take Counseling 100 are more motivated and informed than other students.”

Counseling 100 is a ½-unit course that is strongly recommended for new students. The course introduces students to information important for planning their educational careers, such as General Education requirements and grading policies.

Callout: Given the objectives of the course and the clear association with persistence presented in this report, it seems worthwhile to increase recruitment efforts to stem the decline in course enrollment that has occurred in the summer over the past several years.

“While the course has several objectives, it is thought that students who make connections to other students and college personnel early in their collegiate career, and who develop a better understanding about college life, will ultimately have a better chance of meeting their goals,” LaManque said. “The purpose of this research was to begin to shed light on whether Counseling 100 has a positive effect on student persistence.”

Declining Counseling 100 Enrollment

During the most recent summer, more than 2,200 students enrolled in Counseling 100. As indicated in Figure 1, however, summer enrollment has been on the decline for the past six years. More than 3,100 students enrolled in 1996. This is a significant decline because more than 70 percent of Counseling 100 enrollments occur during the summer term.

The decline in summer enrollment may be associated with students’ ability to apply/register online, which began in the late 1990s. Prior to this time, a Records Office staff member would personally encourage each new student to register for Counseling 100. The declines in course enrollments depicted in Figure 1 can be seen as even more dramatic when viewed against the increase in overall college enrollment over the same period.

About 50 percent of new students in the summer term enroll in Counseling 100. New students make up about 80-90 percent of summer Counseling 100 enrollments. About 25 percent of all summer quarter students will enroll full time in the next term (fall), and more than 85 percent of these students (new students in summer returning to enroll full time in the fall) have taken Counseling 100 in the summer term.

Figure 1Figure 1

Click here/image for
larger view.

 

Methodology

LaManque examined enrollment records for the period 1996-2001. Only students indicating a goal of “transfer,” “degree” or “undecided” were included, because these are the students targeted by Counseling 100. Students were broken into two groups:

  • Students starting in summer or fall, with a goal of “transfer,” “degree” or “undecided,” who had completed Counseling 100 successfully at some point during their first year of attendance at De Anza College.
     
  • Students starting in summer or fall, with a goal of “transfer,” “degree” or “undecided,” who did not enroll in or complete Counseling 100 successfully during their first year.
     

While 81 percent of students starting in the summer (and enrolling in the following fall) and indicating a goal of “transfer,” “degree” or “undecided,” completed Counseling 100 successfully (i.e., with a grade of C or better) at some point during the first year, the figure for students starting in the fall was only 16 percent.

More research will be needed to determine why this difference in Counseling 100 enrollment exists. Overall, the cohorts included in the study are nearly evenly split between those students who took Counseling 100 and those who did not.

Summary of Results

Figure 2 compares enrollment in the fall term one year after initial enrollment for students successfully completing Counseling 100 compared to those who did not take the course or did not successfully complete it.

As depicted, students taking Counseling 100 were found to enroll one year later at a 69 percent rate compared to a 29 percent rate for students who did not take the course.

 

About Institutional Research

This regular column highlights an institutional research (IR) study conducted by the staff of the Institutional Research and Planning office (IR&P) in each News Bytes issue. The goal is to inform more people about IR research so that more effective decisions can be made throughout the District.

The IR function supports a “culture of evidence” through comprehensive information, data and research. College administrators, faculty and staff use these results for decision-making, planning, evaluation and reporting -- to maintain and continuously improve programs, processes and structures to better serve and educate students.

You can get more information about IR, including complete reports, program reviews and research data, on the IR&P site (at the above link) or by contacting Executive Director of IR&P Bob Barr at barrbob@fhda.edu.
 

While this difference is large, care must be taken in interpretation since many factors relating to student persistence have not been taken into account, such as student self-selection bias (i.e., it may be that those students who are more motivated to persist are more likely to take Counseling 100).

Figure 2Figure 2

Click here/image for
larger view.

Note:  “Non-Success” includes students who did not enroll or successfully complete the course.

Results By Goal

As depicted in Figure 3, students who have a goal of transfer or degree tend to persist at a slightly higher rate than those selecting undecided on the application, whether or not they have taken Counseling 100.

For those students who successfully completed Counseling 100, 70 percent of students with a goal of transfer or degree returned one year later, versus 66 percent for students who initially indicated that they were undecided on their goals.

Similar results can be found for students not completing Counseling 100: 31 percent persist if their goal is transfer or a degree compared to 25 percent if they are undecided. The results in Figure 3 may be strong evidence that student goals are subject to change from the initial response on the application, since undecided students do persist at nearly the same rate as students beginning with a goal of transfer or degree at De Anza College.

Figure 3Figure 3

Click here/image for
larger view.

Note:  “Non-Success” includes students who did not enroll or successfully complete the course.

Results By Ethnicity, Start Term

There is some variance in persistence by ethnic group. For example, Asian students completing Counseling 100 have a one-year persistence equal to 79 percent, compared with 54 percent for African American students.

In addition, the one-year persistence rate for students succeeding in Counseling 100 is higher for students who start in the summer than the fall. The one-year persistence rate for students successfully completing Counseling 100 is 70 percent for those starting in the summer, and 62 percent for students starting in the fall.

Even for students not taking Counseling 100, those who start in the summer persist at a higher rate than those who start in the fall: 41 percent compared to 26 percent. More research would be needed to determine why this difference exists.

Summary

There is clearly a very positive relationship between taking Counseling 100 and one-year college persistence. However, this study does not determine whether the learning outcomes of the course are contributing to persistence or whether students with backgrounds associated with persistence are selecting the course.

“Given the objectives of the course and the clear association with persistence presented in this report, it seems worthwhile to increase recruitment efforts to stem the decline in course enrollment that has occurred in the summer over the past several years,” LaManque concluded.

Future research might examine which students are more likely to take Counseling 100 and what factors contribute to a students’ decision not to take the course.

Visit the IR&P Web site to view the full study, which is in a Word document format, or contact LaManque at lamanqueandrew@fhda.edu for more information.

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