Do extracurricular roles impact on retention? A social exchange theory perspective.

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Horstmanshof, Louise
Zimitat, Craig
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Duncan Nulty & Neville Meyers

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2003
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Queensland University of Technology

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Low first-year university retention rates continue to impact negatively on funding, enrolments and public perception of higher education institutions around the world. Today's student has many competing roles: student, worker, partner, parent, child, sibling and friend. Social Exchange Theory is explored as a model for understanding student decision-making behaviour regarding continuation of study. We propose that students continually evaluate the cost/benefits associated with each of their life roles, and invest in those roles that are relatively rewarding and disinvest in those that they perceive as relatively costly. Increasing numbers of roles does not appear to be related to intentions to leave study. We suggest that other factors such as optimism, motivation and self-management contribute to the strength of a role and its power to negotiate dominance within the SET framework.

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Enhancing the transition to Higher Education: strategies and policies that work

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