Timing of Attrition

From the standpoint of informing policy, gross completion rates are not considered adequate for measuring attrition, precisely because they do not reveal at what stage students are leaving or whether they have left permanently. Some researchers have, therefore, designed studies that attempt to identify the stages at which attrition occurs and to capture the reason why students quit. One presenter divides those who quit into three time periods: after the first year, the middle stages, and after being advanced to candidacy or the all-but-dissertation (ABD) stage. Some of the factors that may be causing attrition at each stage were:

For the foregoing considerations and others, the presenters at the workshop generally advocated designing research in ways that identify attrition at the various stages of the graduate education process.

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