Listening to the Community on Student Retention

Year: 2015

Author: Watson, Jane, Wright, Suzie, Allen, Jeanne Maree, Beswick, Kim, Hay, Ian, Cranston, Neil

Type of paper: Refereed paper

This paper draws from a large longitudinal study into issues related to student retention beyond the compulsory years of schooling and gives voice to a commonly-overlooked set of stakeholders, namely those in the community. Although many studies report on students’ and teachers’ opinions of the influence of the community on student engagement and retention, very little is found based on data from the community members themselves. This paper provides an analysis of 11 in-depth interviews carried out with members of the community during the three-year mixed-methods research project on student retention in rural, regional, and disadvantaged areas of Tasmania. Of the themes that emerged, the most salient was that of the provision of educational pathways for students. Other themes included job opportunities, both as a positive and negative influence on student retention, the responsibilities of the community from the perspectives of community members themselves, and their views of the importance of parents and teachers in relation to retention.