Retention Foundations Assessment


The purpose of Retention Foundations Assessment (RFA) is to identify, measure, and improve the underlying variables that impact student retention at NC State by using existing research and data collection methods. This project will inform future unit-level practices within the Division of Academic and Student Affairs (DASA) at NC State and is not meant to serve as generalizable research.

Ultimate goals of RFA: Retention, Persistence, GPA, Graduation. The 5 retention topics are: Grit (passion and perseverance toward long term goals), Belonging (and sense of community), External Issues (family and financial issues), Fit and Commitment (to the institution), and Academic Engagement.

Scope and Stages

Retention Foundations Assessment simultaneously assesses multiple retention variables of interest at NC State in multi-year cycles. Teams of division staff, faculty, and students overseen by the Office of Assessment will work with each retention variable in three stages: Review, Collection, and Implementation. Each stage in the process spans one academic year and is comprised of a unique team of interested individuals within the division. Each team accomplishes the goals of its stage with the members’ own collective judgment and expertise on a timeline given by the Office of Assessment. The team then passes on its progress to the group taking on the next stage for that retention variable. The responsibilities of the three stages are as follows:

1) Review – The Review Team engages in literature review of current research for their variable of interest and narrows the focus as needed. The team then examines existing data on the topic at NC State and identifies remaining data collection needs for the next stage.

2) Collection – In the Collection stage, data on the variable of interest is collected within NC State’s student population based on the previous team’s recommendations. The Office of Assessment’s Pack Assessment Ambassadors lead in the collection of qualitative data by conducting focus groups with undergraduates. All quantitative and qualitative data, along with Ambassador recommendations, are compiled and handed to the final team.

3) Implementation – The Implementation Team reviews the key data points and shares them with DASA units. Team members work with units to brainstorm ways they can use findings to make small but impactful adjustments to existing unit-level programs and practices. Units then share back with the Office of Assessment what changes they have made to improve the underlying retention variable for NC State students.

Current Retention Topics

Stage of the RFA Process2017-20182018-20192019-20202020-2021
Stage 1: ReviewAcademic EngagementGrit, Resiliency, and Growth MindsetTBA TBA
Stage 2: Data CollectionBelonging and Sense of Community Academic Engagement Grit, Resiliency, and Growth Mindset TBA
Stage 3: Implementation Belonging and Sense of Community Academic Engagement Grit, Resiliency, and Growth Mindset

To get involved with a team for this project, please contact Alison Krowiak in the Office of Assessment.