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Durham University

School of Education

Research Projects

Publication details

Reimann, N. (2004). Calculating Non-completion Rates for Modules on Institution-wide Language Programmes: some observations on the nature of seemingly objective figures. Journal of Further and Higher Education 28(2): 139-152.

Author(s) from Durham


This article discusses the issues and problems which typically arise in the process of compiling non‐completion statistics, using the example of an empirical investigation of student non‐continuation on an institution‐wide language programme. The research highlights the fact that the validity of seemingly neutral dropout figures depends on the interests and overt or covert aims of the various stakeholders concerned, the definition of (non‐)continuation, the definition and identification of original module participants and of non‐continuing students, the number and types of records used and the timing of the calculation. One of the main purposes of the article is to make readers more critical towards claims and data on student retention and dropout, particularly in the absence of information on the way in which they were arrived at, as well as their use as performance indicators.

School of Education