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Lonely, homesick and struggling: undergraduate students and intention to quit university


Boddy, C, Lonely, homesick and struggling: undergraduate students and intention to quit university, Quality Assurance in Education, 28, (4) pp. 239-253. ISSN 0968-4883 (2020) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Emerald Publishing Limited

DOI: doi:10.1108/QAE-05-2020-0056


Purpose: This paper outlines a variety of the research on student attrition and recognises some of the sensitivities that may be involved for some students in dealing with dropping out of university. The paper claims that because of these sensibilities, some student’s responses to direct questions about the reasons for attrition may be biased by social desirability. An aim of this research was therefore to get beyond social desirability bias, to examine a fuller range of reasons for student retention and attrition.

Design/Methodology: In an exploratory investigation, this research study utilises a projective technique which helps to circumvent the conscious defences of respondents. The projective technique is based on the ‘thematic apperception test’ and uses a ‘bubble drawing’ to elicit emotional and more socially undesirable responses.

Findings: All first-year students appear to consider leaving university and emotional considerations involving loneliness and homesickness are much more prominent than most quantitative studies acknowledge. For example, in this research, social concerns are twice as prominent as financial concerns, whereas in past survey research financial concerns have been identified as most prominent.

Practical Implications: To retain students, universities need to provide new students with real care and support, especially in their first few weeks at university. To study retention comprehensively, researchers need to go beyond the confines of positivist research.

Originality: This is the first study that uses a projective technique to investigate student retention and attrition. By going beyond a merely positivist approach to research, a fuller, deeper and more complete understanding of the wide extent and profound nature of the emotional issues involved in student attrition and retention is gained.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:student retention, intention to quit, projective techniques, student attrition
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Business systems in context
Research Field:Business systems in context not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Education and Training
Objective Group:Learner and learning
Objective Field:Learner and learning not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Boddy, C (Professor Clive Boddy)
ID Code:141323
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:TSBE
Deposited On:2020-10-14
Last Modified:2021-04-27

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