Entry 1Clique on Student Influence
Miriam Perkins — University of Massachusetts, Lowell

The top section of the image illustrates the portion of students in each of four interest-major fit categories and the temporal flow of students between categories. The bins include the three identified by ACT index cut points (Good, Moderate, Poor) and a fourth (Excellent) defined by us as students whose indicated or declared major is an exact match with their best-fit major. The lower section of the image enables selection of students that remain within or move between categories, along with a more detailed examination and comparison of cohort characteristics.

In contrast to predicting student persistence by major, this visualization identifies what student attributes correlate with strength of interest-major fit. For example, a comparison of the cohort whose indicated major exactly matched their interests during registration for the ACT (Excellent-T1) with the cohort that transitions from Excellent-T1 to Poor-T2 shows that (1) students who leave the Excellent category disproportionately major in ‘Education’ and ‘Business’ and have lower ACT scores, while (2) students who stay within category disproportionately major in ‘Health Sci. & Techno.’ and have higher ACT scores. Transitioning students have the same gender distribution as those who remain within category, and over 80% attend 4-year colleges.

We also observe that the Good, Moderate, and Poor categories contain a similar number of students while the Excellent category has approximately 1/3 fewer members but is still substantial in size. Perhaps surprisingly, students initially measured with Excellent or Good interest-major fit do not fare any better at staying within these categories than the Moderate and Poor fit cohorts. This suggests that student interests are influenced and continue to evolve beyond high school.

Miriam Perkins
University of Massachusetts, Lowell, 1 University Ave, Lowell, MA 01854