According to this press release , “the results of this collaborative effort produced a 15% improvement in retention rates for College 101 students, and greater numbers of College 101 students earning a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Of students participating in the College 101 course, Baldwin-Wallace saw retention rates improve 15%, and over 100 additional students have been retained during the successful 5 year period. By encouraging students to collect thoughts, goals, questions, ideas, to-dos and outcomes related to academic and co-curricular achievements, the B-W Action Plans empower students to better manage their own learning.”
§The study “Social Media and Retention: The Administrative Perspective at Hispanic-Serving Institutions of Higher Education ” by Galindo, Meling, Mundy, & Kupczynski of Texas A&M University-Kingsville (Journal of Studies in Education, 2012, Vol. 2, No. 3), offers the following: “Social Networking Sites (SNS) used for academic purposes have shown positive results as students interact outside of the classroom and therefore these SNSs assist in the learning process and building community (Hung & Yuen, 2010). ‘Blending the real and virtual worlds,’ inside and outside of the classroom has shown to increase peer to peer and academic engagement, especially for first year students (McCarthy, 2010, p. 738).”
§The assertion that social media can enhance retention was further borne out, albeit on a small scale, at Warwickshire College, where students were required to join a Facebook Group as part of a course in Games Development. Course leader Andrew Brazier reported, “The Facebook group has been such a success that [we have] recorded a retention rate of 100%. He says, ‘The course has run since 2005 and although retention rates are generally very good, I often lose one or two students in the first couple of weeks of term as they find out that the course wasn’t suitable for them. Since setting up the Facebook group in September 2008 (to date of publication of this case study [1/9/09]), there hasn’t been any withdrawals.
In fact, the retention rate is over 100% as an extra person has joined!’” See the full case study here .
§In the 2010 study, “The Effect of Online Social Networking on Facilitating Sense of Belonging among University Students Living Off Campus ” by Dorum, Bartle, & Pennington (University of Leicester, UK), “results suggest the use of online networking can aid social integration among students who do not have the advantage of the face-to-face interaction that takes place in residential life on campus”.
What are schools doing to leverage these findings?
There can be little doubt that students are using Facebook and many other social media tools. Faculty are also adopting these tools – this 2010 Chronicle of Higher Education article noted that, “More than four out of every five professors use social media”, based on a (U.S.) national survey of nearly 1,000 faculty members. But what about adoption at a larger level as part of an overall effort to enhance retention?
The easiest places to find news of higher education institutions getting on board with embracing the use of social media as a tool in the retention effort are the web sites and press releases from vendors who produce and sell solutions built around this concept. In this October 2011 Campus Technology article, we learn of seven higher education institutions that are at some stage of implementation with a private social networking offering from Copley systems.