Torrence Savage

Document Type

Research Study

Publication Date

Spring 2018


The St. Cloud State University Belonging Team is investigating how students’ sense of belonging affects their retention at the college. It was found that Belonging Index, Term 1 Cumulative GPA, Term 1 Credit Completion Rate and other Demographic variables were useful in prediction.

The goal for this project is to create two models for predicting the likelihood of Term 3 retention after the student’s first semester. These will be based on the Fall 2014 and 2015 cohorts of new first-year domestic students. The data we have includes measures of academic success, referred to as Academic Outcomes, including GPA, credits attempted, and credits completed among others. The demographic information has variables of interest including gender, whether or not SCSU is the closest university to the student’s home, financial aid gap, etc. Students’ sense of belonging was measured by a series of questions taken by online survey designed by the St. Cloud State University Belonging Team. There were 10 questions ranging from a student’s commitment to complete their degree to how much they regret leaving home. The answers to these questions were measured on 7-point scale and converted to a new 5-point scale variable called Belonging Index.

One of the models created has predictors that include just Belonging Index and Academic Outcomes. The second has Belonging Index, Academic Outcomes, and Demographics as predictors. These two models are compared with the previous model, created in Fall 2017 by the author, that only had Belonging Index and Demographics as predictors. The best model will be chosen based on model accuracy, statistical and practical significance of the predictors, and the complexity of the model. The best model was applied to the Fall 2017 cohort of new first-year domestic students to find their average predicted probability of Term 3 enrollment and compare it with the Fall 2014-2015 cohorts.

It was found that a student’s original Belonging Index is still a very strong predictor of Term 3 enrollment after a student’s first semester. Also, Term 1 Cumulative GPA and Term 1 Credit Completion Rate were better predictors of Term 3 enrollment than all of the other previous variables involved.

The average predicted probability of enrollment for the Fall 2017 cohort, after Term 1 and excluding Term 2 dropouts was 79.9% compared to an enrollment of 79.1% in the 2014-2015 cohorts.

The predicted probabilities of enrollment for all students of the 2017 cohort were saved and sent to Dr. Robinson. Now they can be grouped according to their predicted probability of enrollment, and targeted for help based on who is most at risk.