, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 64–85 | Cite as

Dropouts from higher education: An interdisciplinary review and synthesis

  • William G. Spady


The dropout process from higher education is examined from a variety of operational definitions and intellectual perspectives. A methodological analysis, critique, and synthesis of the empirical literature suggest that a more rigorous interdisciplinary approach must be attempted. A model based on Durkheim's theory of suicide provides a fruitful vehicle for summarizing a large proportion of current research, and focusing future attention on the interaction between student attributes (i.e., dispositions, interests, attitudes, and skills) and the influences, expectations, and demands imposed by various sources in the university environment. Both the academic and social systems of the university are regarded as important frameworks from which the dropout process must be examined. An empirical analysis operationalizing the variables in the model will be presented in the sequel to this paper.


High Education Social System Empirical Analysis Empirical Literature Operational Definition 
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Le processus d'abandon au niveau des études supérieures est examiné à la lumière d'une variété de définitions opérationnelles et de perspectives intellectuelles. Une analyse méthodologique, une critique, et une synthèse de la littérature expérimentale sur le sujet suggèrent qu'une approche interdisciplinaire plus rigoureuse devrait être appliquée. Un modèle basé sur la théorie du suicide de Durkheim est proposé, servant avantageusement à résumer une grande partie des recherches récentes et permettant, dans l'avenir, d'attirer l'attention sur l'interaction entre les attributs de l'étudiant (i. e., dispositions, intérêts, attitudes, et habiletés) et les influences, les attentes, et les demandes imposées par diverses sources dans le milieu universitaire. Les systèmes académique et social de l'université constituent d'importantes structures dans lesquelles le processus d'abandon doit être étudié. Suit une analyse empirique visant à rendre opérationelles les variables du modèle suggéré.


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© The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education 1970

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  • William G. Spady

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