SAM – College drop-out in Mathematics (German: “Studienabbruch in der Mathematik”)

The high drop-out rate in mathematics and natural sciences during the university B.Sc. phase is a well-known phenomenon (Heublein, 2014). The research project “University drop-out in Mathematics” addresses the following questions: a) what is the relative importance of individual predictors of drop-out in the interaction of multiple causes? b) How can drop-out be modelled as a process (taking into account the interdependencies of the predictors)? c) How can the probability of dropping out of university be reduced in term time (given very limited resources)?

The modelling of university drop-out will provide detailed insights into the temporal antecedents of drop-out. In the first step, a preliminary forecast model is developed (based on the reanalysis of extensive data sets). In Tübingen, this result is to be used initially to identify the multiple risk factors in existing cohorts and to make predictions on the probability of dropping out. The risk assessment makes it possible to advise students at risk. In the course of the project, further longitudinal data will be collected, and analytical techniques and the identification of risk constellations will be improved, so that a more targeted approach to those at risk can be implemented.

The sub-project “Determinants and Intervention” at the University of Stuttgart can in turn be divided into two sub-projects. Competence measurement instruments will be developed or existing instruments will be adapted in order to construct time-sensitive prediction models of drop-out (sub-project 1). This will enable us to track the subject-specific achievements of students in the first year of their studies, which is a particularly sensitive period for drop-out. In addition to this, an intervention involving an experimental and control group design is being developed and carried out in order to reduce the performance and motivation-related drop-outs or change of course of study in mathematics (sub-project 2). This intervention follows the Cognitive Apprenticeship Approach (e.g. Collins, Brown & Newman, 1989) Several studies in the vocational school sector have already shown this approach to be effective in improving competence and motivation.


Status: running (since April 1, 2017)

This research is funded by a grant of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF).Link: