Decomposing the characteristics of undergraduate student attrition
The authors use the techniques of decomposition analysis to explain differences in survival rates between different groups of 1st year undergraduate students at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland and explain how much of the overall inequality in survival rates can be explained by inequality within groups and how much can be explained by inequality between groups. They find that 45.1% of the observed difference of 8.2 points in survival rates between female and male students can be explained by gender whereas only 1.4% of the observed difference of 7.4 points in survival rates between Protestant and Catholic students only 1.4% can be explained by religion. Therefore, attribute differences are important in explaining differences in survival rates between males and females, but not between Protestants and Catholics. When looking at how much of the overall inequality in survival rates could be explained by inequality within groups and how much by inequality between groups; they find that the best explanation for the observed inequality in the distribution of survival probabilities was given by the type of course studied accounting for nearly 2/3 of the inequality between students.
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