Social Psychology of Education

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 165-180

First online:

A social network analysis of student retention using archival data

  • James E. EcklesAffiliated withDivision of Information Services, Rhodes College Email author 
  • , Eric G. StradleyAffiliated withWelch Consulting

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This study attempts to determine if a relationship exists between first-to-second-year retention and social network variables for a cohort of first-year students at a small liberal arts college. The social network is reconstructed using not survey data as is most common, but rather using archival data from a student information system. Each student is given a retention score and an attrition score based on the behavior of their immediate relationships in the network. Those scores are then entered into a logistic regression that includes tradition background and performance variables that are traditionally significantly related to retention. Students’ friends’ retention and attrition behaviors are found to have a greater impact on retention that any background or performance variable.


Retention Higher education Social network Density Attrition Liberal arts