Yes, the "r" word in higher education. Someone always seems to be expressing concern about it; whether students will succeed; whether students will come back and keep enrolling for more courses (and paying more tuition). Sometimes, we talk in the lingo of ATD, Achieving the Dream.
Well, to address retention, you've got to think of some of the factors involved:
a) proportion of courses taught by full-time versus adjunct instructors. Sure there are some great adjunct instructors and some poor full-time faculty, but the odds are not good for a lot of active-learning techniques being used by adjunct faculty
b) skill sets of the students (in terms of, for example, reading ability, writing skills, study skills, time management ability, etc). Some of that can be addressed, but only by a careful outlay of resources.
c) institutional facilities. When libraries and testing centers are not available to students on some evenings or on weekends, then that will put further barriers to students coming back for more classes.
d) course availabilities
e) institutional psychology. Look have you ever tried to brave your way through the Novaconnect/MyNova student information system. It is so un-user friendly, that it has got to frustrate students. We can't even give students a student ID; we have got to give them an EMPLID.
There were two more points, but I can't remember them now.