Identifier

etd-08292008-085519

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Student retention is of policy significance to higher education systems. In the United States, student retention is a major problem in higher education affecting students, universities, and society. Most of the research on student retention has focused on first-year students. Little is known about the retention of college students after their first year. The primary purpose of this study was to determine the influence of selected demographic and academic characteristics on the decision of traditional-age, undergraduate students to re-enroll at a research-extensive university. The population was defined as all traditional-age undergraduate students who entered the selected university during the fall 2005 semester. A total of 16 independent variables were collected from admissions and student aid databases and transferred to a computerized, recording form that served as the research instrument. Using stepwise multiple discriminant analysis, the researcher identified a significant model that increased the researcher’s ability to accurately explain the retention status of traditional-age, undergraduate students. The model correctly classified 86.7% of the cases, which was a 39.3% improvement over chance. The researcher recommended further studies to increase the percentage of correctly classified cases by integrating these variables with others to further explain retention status. Variables suggested were: a more detailed examination of the students’ financial aid portfolio; students’ GPA during their second and subsequent semesters of enrollment; students’ involvement in other student activities and organizations; and survey and/or focus group data regarding the perceptions of enrollment management personnel. The researcher further found that many non-retained students entered the study institution with very good high school academic records, contrary to previous studies. The researcher recommended further study to determine why students with strong academic credentials leave college before their third year. The researcher suggested the use of exit interviews of students leaving the university. The researcher also found that a small portion of the retained students received one of the university’s five major academic scholarships. There is strong evidence to suggest that scholarships have a significant influence on student retention. The researcher recommended that the study institution seek more funding to increase the number of scholarships to award to incoming students.

Date

2008

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Michael F. Burnett

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