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Differentiation of students’ trajectories in modern higher education

Priority areas of development: state and public administration
2013
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

The purpose of this work was to study differentiation of students' trajectories from the beginning of student’s entrance to University to the end of his dropout from University by analyzing academic heterogeneity, student engagement in kearning practices and level of dropout and students’ academic failure. The report presents the results of three research areas: academic heterogeneity of the student contingent by the results of Unified State Examination, student engagement and student attrition.

The object of research is the academic heterogeneity of Russian state universities as well as the systems of state universities within four integrated groups of majors including: “Economics and Management”; “Computer Science”, “Agriculture and the Fishing Industry”, and “Healthcare”. The purpose of this work is to continue and to deepen the investigation into the academic heterogeneity of the Russian student body by the results of Unified State Examination, as well as to refine the methodology for evaluating heterogeneity, and to construct a classification of universities taking into account the degree of heterogeneity. The empirical data for this research was obtained from the monitoring database "Quality of student enrollment" which has been carried out by the National Research University “Higher school of economics” (NRU HSE) and Russian Information Agency (RIA News). As a result of the work, the methodology of the analysis of academic heterogeneity within the integrated groups of majors has been refined; A  new methodology for the system heterogeneity of state universities has been developed; the classification of universities/directions on the degree of heterogeneity has been created; research into the dynamics of academic heterogeneity within several integrated groups of majors on the data for the 2012 and 2013 has been realized.

The object of this research into student engagement is students studying at Russian and foreign universities. The subject of this study is student engagement in Russian and foreign universities. The purpose of the study is to obtain and develop knowledge about student engagement in Russian universities through deeper investigation and comparison with foreign students. The research program included the following five research tasks: 1) To conduct an analysis of student engagement in two Russian universities; 2) To develop a method for student engagement analysis by index constructing; 3) To test the reliability and validity of indexes; 4) To carry out a comparative analysis of student engagement in the Higher School of Economics and the University of California; 5) To conduct a comparative analysis of student engagement in four Russian universities.

The empirical base of the research includes data that was gathered not only in 2013 but also in 2011 and 2012 ( surveys at HSE in 2011 and 2012 and at North-East Federal University (NEFU) and Tver State University (TSU) in 2012). The data gathering in 2013 included two stages: a survey of the Consortium “Student Experience in Research University” at the HSE (spring), and a survey of students who had majored in economics or management in Russian universities (fall-winter). Moreover, this research included analysis of the data gathered through surveys at the University of California. This data was provided by the organizing committee of the SERU Consortium. The data for analysis included 1296 respondents from HSE, 1245 respondents from the other four institutions, and 2909 students of Berkeley University. As a result of this investigation into student engagement, the main characteristics of learning process and differences in student engagement in NEFU and TSU were identified. The second result of this study is a method of student engagement analysis by constructing three indexes: 1. Index of individual student engagement; 2. Index of engaging institutional conditions; 3. Index of social engagement. This method is effective and can be applied for engagement analysis by student characteristics. This was confirmed by correlation analysis and an analysis of indexes depending on year of study and the job of the students. The comparative analysis of HSE and Berkeley University allowed us to draw the following conclusions:

1)   The students of the University of California comparatively more often demonstrate substantial interest in course material and involvement in the learning process than respondents from the Higher School of Economics. The HSE students are more engaged in compliance with instructors requirements and demonstration of skills (for example, through participation in discussion).

2)   The institutional conditions for study created in the HSE are significantly behind indicators of the University of California. Berkeley students are more engaged in effective learning practices.

3)   The HSE students rarely ask faculty for help and are less involved in informal communication with them about course material than their colleagues from the University of California. To a large extent, any interaction of faculty and students take place around curriculum.

The results of the analysis of student engagement in four Russian universities allow us to make the conclusion that the level of student engagement differs in different institutions. However, we cannot say that indicators of engagement are lower or higher in a certain institution. The differences only appeared for some aspects of engagement. This fact provides evidence that learning is a complex phenomenon and it should be measured by employing several aspects of engagement that have a set of indicators. The results about student engagement in Russian higher education institutions that was conducted in 2013 allow us some to make some advances in our methodological and empirical investigation.

The study on student attrition included a discourse-analysis of the professors’ view of the problem of student attrition, critical analysis of theories of educational achievement, elaboration of methodology for the analysis of the position in social networks of classmates on student dropout, as well as a comparative analysis of factors of undergraduate student attrition in US and Russian universities. The empirical database for analysis was formed by data from different sources:

- Administrative data on student trajectories and other student characteristics of two state Russian and eight state Ohio universities;

- 33 in-depth interviews with professors of departments of Economics and Engineering conducted at 10 Russian universities;

- A pilot survey of 114 students in the 3rd year of study at one of the Russian universities.

As result of the study on student attrition, firstly, the application of theories of educational achievement to dropout phenomenon was examined; secondly, discourse-analysis of the professors’ view of the problem of student attrition was conducted; thirdly, methodology for the analysis of the position in social network sof classmates on student dropout was elaborated; fourthly, a comparative analysis of factors of undergraduate student attrition in US and Russian universities was conducted. The results of this study on student attrition have contributed to the theoretical framework of a concept of student attrition in Russian universities. New empirical results obtained in the study could contribute to an elaboration of practical recommendations for increasing the quality of education in Russian universities.  The results of the comparative study on student attrition in Russian and Ohio universities shed light on national specifics of the student attrition process in Russian universities and contribute to discussion on the role of higher education in society.

 

Publications:


Малошонок Н. Г. Измерение студенческой вовлеченности: основные методы и их ограничения // Социология: методология, методы, математическое моделирование. 2013. № 36. С. 177-199.
Froumin I., Kardanova E., Enchikova E. S., Ivanova A. Academic heterogeneity of universities freshmen, in: INTED 2013 Proceedings. 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference. Valencia, Spain. 4-5 March, 2013. Валенсия : IATED, 2013. P. 447-465.
Aleskerov F. T., Froumin I., Kardanova E., Ivanova A., Myachin A. L., Serova A. V., Yakuba V. I. Heterogeneity of the educational system: an introduction to the problem / Издательский дом ВШЭ. Series WP7 "Математические методы анализа решений в экономике, бизнесе и политике". 2014.
Terentev E., Gruzdev I., Gorbunova E. The Court Is Now in Session: Professor Discourse on Student Attrition / Пер. с рус. // Russian Education and Society. 2016. Vol. 58. No. 1. P. 44-68. doi
Gorbunova E., Hawley J. D., Kondratjeva O. Academic Momentum and Undergraduate Student Attrition: Comparative Analysis in US and Russian Universities // Comparative Education Review. 2017. No. 3. P. 607-633. doi
Aleskerov F. T., Kardanova E., Froumin I., Ivanova A., Myachin A. L., Serova A. V., Yakuba V. I., Carnoy M. A New Approach to the Investigation of Heterogeneity (with an application to the Russian Higher Education System) // International Journal of Research and Method in Education. 2015