Academic Probation As An Obstruction: Factors Influencing College Students' Retention

Academic probation is virtually every institution's challenge, but it is the most under-researched policy practiced at most community colleges. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of academic probation transcript labeling on students' retention. Literature on college retention identifies the circumstances that improve retention, which mostly occurs during the first-year experience in college. Therefore, this study aims to study early characteristics of first-year Glendale Community College students on academic probation. Public community colleges have 25 percent of first-time freshmen placed on academic probation. Thus, the purpose of this study is to draw attention to academic probation policy and how that serves the students and the academic record without an intervention. The study examines academic probation students' retention by using logistic regression analysis to estimate the probability of a binary response (retained or not retained) based on students' characteristic predictors (or independent) variables. The data is collected from students' college applications-prior to Fall 2014 application submission of students' attendance which also identifies the freshmen background characteristics. The student data is categorized into those who did and did not persist during the second-year Spring 2016 semester. An analysis is conducted and reported to identify what are the common pre-enrollment background characteristics of those students. The results specify that academic probation is not a statistically significant finding, which indicates that being placed on probation neither helps nor hurts student retention. Another important finding related to retention is students' unit load during each semester. Part-time unit load is significant towards students' retention. Students are most likely to retain if their enrollment status is full-time. With GPA being an important factor in retention, the study indicates that for each single point that a GPA increases, the probability of retention (outcome) is increased by about 14.4 percent. Also, students are 2.6 percent less likely to retain (when holding GPA as a factor). Holding both GPA and probation status constant, older students are less likely to be retained (the probability decreasing by about 1.4 percent with each additional year of age). Armenian and Middle Eastern students are more likely to be retained than White students (the comparison category). The probabilities are about 0.23 and 0.20 for Armenian and Middle Eastern students, respectively. Other important results indicate that remedial course-work is unrelated to retention, and that only the lowest-level remedial course-taking is related (decreases) the probability of retention, and that ESL coursework is related to retention positively. This implies that student language skills are likely to be important in retention and that ESL courses likely formalize the skills required to be successful. If the policy of probation is to support students' academic achievement and ultimately retention and completion of community college, then based on this study's findings, probation does not impact retention in college. As a result, a large number of these students need a support system.