Student Retention and Complexity Theory

Complexity Theory

Using available research to draft effective policy is more difficult than one might expect. "There are no simple solutions," says Jonas Forsman, MSc in Physics Education Research at the Uppsala University in Sweden. He applied Complexity Theory to student retention, showing how all factors that may influence study success are intertwined. This means that changing one of these variables might have an effect on all others, which makes it very difficult to predict the possible effects of interventions.

Map and link factors

This theory proved useful to Van den Bogaard. She followed several groups of students during their first academic year. "By using the Complexity Theory to sort my data, I was not only able to map out different factors that influence study success, but also how these factors were linked to one another," she explains. 

Presentation by Jonas Forsman (2.19 MB)
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CEL Innovation Room #2