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Improving Freshman Retention With Intrusive Advising Interventions

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Jeremy Helm Arizona State University

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Jeremy Helm is the Director of Academic Administration and Student Success in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. In this capacity, he oversees the schools' policies and processes related to academic standards; admission standards; curriculum implementation; advising services; first year programming and student support services.

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Tami Coronella Arizona State University

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Tami Coronella is the Associate Director of Academic Administration and Student Success for the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. She has worked in advising and advising administration since 2000. Her academic career has been focused at Arizona State University, where she earned a B.S. in Management and an M.S. in Public Administration. She is currently working on an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership and Innovation. Her interests include advisor development and assessment along with student retention and persistence.

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This work in progress describes an effort to target at-risk freshmen through intrusive academic advising interventions. The study aims to understand the influence academic advising interactions can have on the engagement behavior and retention of at-risk freshman students.

Our institution provides a breadth and depth of student support resources designed to improve freshman retention. The organization will continue to invest in these resources. Yet retention rates have of freshmen in engineering have remained flat year over year. New approaches for addressing retention are needed.

Data was gathered on engineering students not retained to the university after one year from the fall 2014 first-time freshman cohort. Analysis of the data indicated certain enrollment behaviors were predictors of attrition. For example, students who withdraw from two or more courses, did not enroll in all required term 1 and 2 courses, or were initially enrolled in a pre-requisite course for calculus were more likely to leave after the first year.

The university provides several early-warning indicators suggesting that students may be at risk or facing academic challenges. Two of these indicators were included in our analysis. The first was the use of an “academic status report” notification from a professor to a student suggesting academic improvement is needed to succeed in the course. The second indicator came in the form of student responses to a survey administered by the university to all freshmen.

Our analysis uncovered the need to introduce intrusive advising principles. Research on the impact of advising reflects the correlation which exists between successful academic advising and an increase in student retention and graduation rates. Higher education institutions invest in academic advising in an effort to guide students towards degree completion. Academic advisors provide academic guidance, connect students to academic support resources, and identify opportunities for engagement activities outside of the classroom to promote employability.

Intrusive advising involves the mandatory requirement for a student to meet with the academic advisor. Professional advisors are used in this institution. Intrusive advising techniques have been shown in research to increase academic performance and retention. Through the requirement of the advising discussion, advisors can collaboratively develop strategies for engagement with resources that will promote academic success.

Student Involvement Theory is used to frame the approach and the discussion with the advisor and student. The theory of student involvement refers to the energy and time investment by the student in his/her academic experience. A student can choose to join a club, participate in tutoring, attend office hours with a faculty member, or live on campus. The theory of student involvement focuses on behavior, not intention and considers the depth and breadth of student involvement. Important considerations with this theory explore quantitative and qualitative assessment of the types of activities, impact of activities, and the institution's policies and procedures related to student engagement.

We hope to see a significant improvement in freshmen retention after one year as a result of intrusive academic advising interventions and we will measure the influence advising interactions had on at-risk freshman students.

Helm, J., & Coronella, T. (2016, June), Improving Freshman Retention With Intrusive Advising Interventions Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25618

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