Teaching Matters 2020 | Presentation Details | 1 December 20201 Dec 2020
Retention via connectedness: Insights from using projective techniques
Clive R Boddy, School of Management, CoBE
The current generation of students sound poised, self-reliant and appear to be confident. However, appearances can be deceptive. Using a projective technique based on the thematic apperception test and involving the gathering of responses to a bubble drawing (Boddy, 2018), research illustrates just how isolated, disconnected, and strained undergraduates actually feel. Projective techniques facilitate the delivery of truthful responses via depersonalising the question; thus removing social desirability bias (AQR, 2020; Boddy, 2010). This enables the emergence of underlying feelings towards the university experience that are not well captured by the direct questioning typically used in student retention and attrition research. Projective techniques are little used in academia but when explained to academics they are deemed to be useful (Boddy, 2005b). They produce valid and insightful findings (Boddy, 2005a; Soley, 2010) and have been recommended for research into teaching (Boddy, 2004) and student retention (Boddy, 2010). Findings from recent research utilising a projective technique, indicate that all undergraduates consider leaving university; and that emotional considerations are foremost, regardless of the rational, socially biased answers that students give in typical surveys. Findings reveal that students feel emotionally disconnected from their friends, homes and families; and insufficiently connected to their undergraduate peers, universities and lecturers. A respected model of retention is Tinto’s, and this has been validated in previous studies. Findings from recent research using a projective technique also support Tinto’s model of student retention (Tinto, 1982; Tinto, 1988) but with greater emphasis on the social integration aspects of the model (Boddy, 2020).
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