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Reflections: Rethinking Engagement and Student Persistence


We are delighted to feature this timely reflective article on Rethinking Engagement and Student Persistence by Professor Vincent Tinto, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University, United States of America (USA).  It’s timely because six years ago Professor Tinto reflected in this Journal on Student Persistence – and that was pre-COVID, and the associated mass transition to online, flexible and hybrid learning modalities. We are delighted because during the STARS 2023 Conference, it was apparent that Professor Tinto’s work continues to inspire and guide practice as he generously offers his thoughts to practitioners and researchers who share his passion for improving student outcomes.  In this article, Vincent explores the role that social networks have in fostering student engagement, leading to persistence.  As he puts it ’engagement matters’ and indeed it does, although its impact as he says remains relatively under-explored.  Vincent considers social networks using the classroom and curriculum as contexts for understanding how different forms of networks: tight or loose, dense or sparse can engender different outcomes for students noting that the mere existence of a network will not always lead to positive student engagement. He gives attention to the formation of networks and notes that some of these connecting relationships are less visible, especially for online students and for those students whose networks exist in virtual social spaces that are outside the realm of our institution.  Acknowledging that staff cannot and should not seek to be involved in all student networks, he implores us to do what we can to foster productive networks within our spheres of influence, because put simply ‘student engagement cannot be left to chance.’

Published: 2023-07-13
Pages:1 to 7
Section:Feature Article
How to Cite
Tinto, V. (2023). Reflections: Rethinking Engagement and Student Persistence. Student Success, 14(2), 1-7.

Author Biography

Syracuse University
United States United States

Vincent Tinto is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at Syracuse University and the former Chair of the Higher Education Program. He has carried out research and has written extensively on higher education, particularly on student success and the impact of learning communities on student growth and attainment. His book, Leaving College, published by the University of Chicago Press, lays out a theory and policy perspective on student success that is considered the benchmark by which work on these issues are judged. His most recent book, Completing College, also published by The University of Chicago Press, lays out a framework for institutional action for student success, describes the range of programs that have been effective in enhancing student success, and the types of policies institutions should follow to successfully implement programs in ways that endure and scale-up over time.

He has received numerous recognitions and awards. He was awarded the Council of Educational Opportunity Walter O. Mason 2012 Award for his work on the retention of low-income students, the Council of Independent Colleges 2008 Academic Leadership Award, the National Institute for Staff Development International 2008 Leadership Award, and was named Distinguished Fellow in the Council of Learning Assistance and Developmental Education Associations. Most recently he was the recipient of the 2015 President Harry S. Truman Award for the American Association of Community Colleges for his work for community colleges across America and the 2017 George D. Kuh award for Outstanding Contribution to Literature and Research. He has some 50 notable publications, including books, research reports, and journal articles, to his credit and has lectured across the United States, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Great Britain, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, South America and The Netherlands. From 1990 to 1996 he was associate director of the National Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment.  He has worked with a number of organizations, foundations, and government agencies on issues of student success and sits on a number of advisory boards including the Community College Survey of Student Engagement, and Civitas Learning

Open Access Journal
ISSN 2205-0795