Elaboration of the students self and persistence in higher education

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Horstmanshof, L & Zimitat, C 2003, 'Elaboration of the students self and persistence in higher education', in PL Jeffery (ed.), Proceedings of Association for Active Eductional Researchers (AARE) Conference, University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 29 November - 3 December.

Peer Reviewed



Higher education institutions around the world have invested decades of research and employed countless interventions to address low first year retention rates, as such rates impact negatively on funding, enrolments and public perceptions. The increased diversity of the contemporary first year student population, and their competing identities of student, worker, partner, parent and friend has further complicated an already complex issue. Persistence is used in this study to understand the individual student's efforts to seek encouragement and support to persevere in his/her studies despite the challenges that he/she may face. Social Exchange Theory is proposed as a model for understanding student decision-making behaviour regarding continuation of study. We propose that students continually evaluate the cost -benefits associated with each of their life roles, and invest in those roles that are relatively rewarding and disinvest in those that they perceive as relatively costly. We explore the notion of an elaborated student self as a means of negotiating increased time and energy for study. We also consider ways in which such elaboration may lead to positive student behaviour.