What Works In Student Retention? – Two-Year Public Colleges
© 2004 by ACT, Inc. All rights reserved.
It has been quite some time since ACT has engaged in a comprehensive study of college student
retention practices. This study would not have been possible however, had it not been for the
earlier efforts of ACT staff members Lee Noel and Susan Cowart who conducted “What Works
in Student Retention” studies and published results in 1980 and 1987, respectively. And, this
study could not have been completed without the continuing support of Jon Erickson, ACT Vice
President of Educational Services.
No study of this magnitude could be complete without efforts of a multitalented team. The staff
of ACT’s Survey Research Area, directed by Michael Valiga, was the backbone of this team. This
team was supportive, creative, thorough, and responsive. Specific thanks go to the following
Peggy Loveless provided statistical analysis and responded promptly to requests for
just one more data run.
Vi Bitterman managed a multilevel, complex mailing and return strategy.
Elizabeth McBride handled data entry and far more. Elizabeth had the magical ability
to massage, manipulate, and mine the database to produce a never-ending stream of
charts and tables.
Randy McClanahan (co-author) served all phases of this study. She was instrumental
in the design of the survey. She supervised the data collection. She wrote the review
of the literature and assembled the bibliography. She critiqued the manuscript
mercilessly, and necessarily. In an undertaking as major as this survey, one could
simply not ask for a better colleague.
Deb Anderson is responsible for the production of the final manuscript. Whether interpreting my
scribbled notes, gently suggesting changes that should have been obvious, adjusting the size and
or tables, and producing unknown number of drafts, Deb has been unflappable and unerring. Deb
has always been, and continues to be, my right arm.
Finally, I acknowledge the readers of this report, particularly those who recognize that there is
much at stake if college students are to be successful. If this report, in some small way, provides
the stimulus and creates a resolve to for you to enhance campus retention practices, then it will
have served its purpose.
Wesley R. Habley, ACT