Book by David Kalsbeek
Review by Cathy Kennemer
Department of Business
Rogers State University

Colleges and universities expend considerable concern and institutional resources attempting to identify  solutions for improving their retention and graduation rates. DePaul University was not unlike many other institutions dealing with this issue. Reframing Retention Strategy for Institutional Improvement: New Directions for Higher Education Number 161 is a book that evolved from DePaul University’s efforts to improve their institutional retention and graduation rates.  A new retention strategy framework is presented that characterizes ways in which institutions can change their philosophy and commitment toward retention. The contributors report that the 4 P’s framework (profile, progress, process, and promise) for student retention strategies is designed to “challenge some conventional wisdom and prevailing perspectives that have characterized retention strategy for years” (p. 6).

This 4 P’s framework for student retention strategies is presented in two basic sections within the book. The first section includes definitions of the 4 P’s framework and discusses the new framework in relationship to existing academic literature. The second section provides current examples of institutional retention initiatives and programs that follow the 4 P’s framework. It also includes a chapter on how to engage faculty in retention efforts. 

The first section includes a detailed literature review. These chapters are very useful to advisors who wish to see a comparison and contrast of the current retention literature. Each of the 4 P’s is presented in separate chapters. Each chapter discusses the concept of that portion of the framework and walks the reader through ways that institutions should implement the respective step of the framework. It is also important to note that each section was filled with references from the retention literature. Institutional examples were also used throughout the book to supplement the contributors’ opinions and relevant academic literature cited in each chapter. Advisors will find the institutional examples especially helpful. 

This book would be helpful as a starting point or supplement for those looking to institutionally focus on retention or attempting to rethink their university’s retention paradigm. What is not included are recommendations for how to begin a discussion if retention has not been an institutional focus. 

The best features of this book included examples from DePaul University and other institutions. Although the examples are excellent, a more in-depth examination of those examples would be helpful.  This text was written from the perspective of a large university; however, there is great relevancy for small institutions as well. 

Reframing Retention Strategy for Institutional Improvement: New Directions for Higher Education Number 161, Spring 2013. (2013). Book by David Kalsbeek (Eds.). Review by Cathy Kennemer.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 120 pp., $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-1186-4085-2
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