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The development and pilot of the university student embeddedness (USE) scale for student retention within universities: validation with an Australian student sample

Heritage, B.ORCID: 0000-0002-6437-7232, Ladeira, C. and Steele, A.R.ORCID: 0000-0001-5045-9520 (2022) The development and pilot of the university student embeddedness (USE) scale for student retention within universities: validation with an Australian student sample. Higher Education .

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Abstract

A significant number of university students are leaving their institutions before completing their degrees. The present research project applied embeddedness theory, from organizational research, to understand student retention in a tertiary student population, and develop a quantitative instrument that measured university student embeddedness. In Study One, a mixed-methods approach was employed to determine whether the Fit (similarity between the student and the university), Links (count of relationships at university), and Sacrifice (losses upon leaving university) dimensions of embeddedness related to students’ self-reported reasons for remaining enrolled at their university. Qualitative results from 15 undergraduate students indicated that intent to remain could be understood within the embeddedness dimensions of Fit, Links, and Sacrifice. These themes were employed to build the University Student Embeddedness (USE) scale. The measure was examined against Rasch measurement model assumptions for each of its subscales using data collected from 299 Australian tertiary students. Study Two sought to examine exploratory evidence of the concurrent validity of the scores from this developed measure. Responses from a separate sample of 196 Australian tertiary students showed only the Fit scale significantly related to student intentions to stay at university. All USE scales correlated with academic-related skills and motivations. These results suggest that the Fit scale may be valuable in identifying students at risk of dropout. Early identification of “at risk” students may lead to the development of targeted retention interventions. However, the USE’s role in detection requires further validation and the development of consistent findings within other student cohorts.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Psychology, Counselling, Exercise Science and Chiropractic
Publisher: Springer
Copyright: © 2022 The Authors.
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/63872
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