Divan MoutonHui ZhangBernhard Ertl

German university student’s reasons for dropout: Identifying latent classes

Shortlink: https://www.waxmann.com/artikelART104173

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Abstract

The reasons for students discontinuing studies in university courses are manifold and often represent a combination of different factors. Theoretical work and empirical findings have already conceptualized various factors relevant to dropouts, but little is known about the interplay of these factors. The present paper deals with this topic and analyses how different classes of dropouts can be defined on the basis of the reasons for their termination. The study draws on data from the National Education Panel Study (NEPS), Starting Cohort 5 – first semester students, which asked drop-outs about the reasons for their dropout with a 24-item Reasons for Dropout Questionnaire (RDQ). Longitudinally, the important reasons for dropout at the beginning of studies related to the student’s relationship to the study program or institution, but they do not correspond to important reasons at the end, which mainly relate to socio-economic reasons. In addition, most dropouts occur at the beginning of studies and then steeply decline over time. A latent class analysis revealed 12 specific profiles of students that are mainly characterized by different combinations of reasons for dropout. These classes correspond to other contextually relevant constructs beyond the RDQ, such as performance and socio-economic-factors, academic self-concept and the intention to dropout. Such profiles should be considered for targeted interventions.

Keywords
Dropout; University; Latent class; NEPS