A quantitative assessment developed at Earlham College has emerged as a reliable tool for identifying students who may require additional support before they arrive on campus.
The Quantitative Assessment for New Students (QANS) is administered to all first-year and transfer students and takes 30 minutes to complete. Unlike traditional placement exams that determine students’ readiness for a particular math course, QANS is also a valuable tool for predicting if students will succeed in their first year and graduate on time.
“Every college and university across the country faces challenges related to student retention and success,” said Matt Brown, the architect of QANS and the director of Earlham’s Quantitative Reasoning Center. “This assessment demonstrates Earlham’s commitment to student success by giving academic advisers advanced insights into whether a student is prepared for the rigor of a liberal arts curriculum. The result is the development of an appropriate four-year plan for each student, maximizing the likelihood of a student getting the most out of their college education.”
About 600 students have taken QANS since its launch during the 2018-19 academic year. Students scoring above a benchmark were 20 percent more likely to remain enrolled while students who scored below the benchmark were 42 percent more likely to leave.
“The QANS results have prompted the creation of new courses and programming that have a direct impact on retention,” Brown said. Students who have taken these new courses are 28 percent more likely to remain enrolled than the general population, he notes.
QANS was developed after consultation with professors teaching entry-level quantitative courses in the natural sciences and social sciences divisions on campus. The assessment content was statistically validated by a national testing service and is customizable and repeatable to meet the needs of any college and university.
Student success and retention is also a focus of Earlham’s “Grow Where You’re Planted: Deeping Our Roots” initiative. Funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., the initiative will result in a redesign of the College’s academic advising practices to implement best practices for meeting the needs of today’s students. The initiative also will create new pathways for students to transfer to Earlham.