Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

December 1999

Abstract

In the 1990s, due in part to declining enrollment numbers and prolonged budget constraints, student retention became a primary focus in higher education. Aligned with the nationwide interest, this longitudinal, archival study focused on the correlates of student retention at Walters State Community College, located in Morristown, Tennessee. The population involved 17,497 students enrolled from the fall semester of 1992 through the fall semester of 1997. Four sets of variables were investigated--demographic variables, pre-matriculation variables, post-matriculation variables related to grades, and post-matriculation variables related to enrollment. The data were collected through the use of a computer program written to access the Tennessee Board of Regents' Student Information System database, and the data obtained were analyzed through the application of two univariate approaches--the chi-square and the t test for independent samples. The major findings of the study were: (1) Younger, White, females persisted at higher rates than did other students at Walters State; (2) students who: had higher high school GPAs, had higher admission test scores, attended public high schools, had pre-college residences that were located within the college's service area, and made applications for college less than two months prior to the first day of classes persisted at higher rates than did other students at Walters State; (3) students who: had higher college GPAs, were required to take one or two remedial and developmental courses, had not received any "F" grades, and had greater than zero reported absences persisted at higher rates than did other students at Walters State; and (4) students who: attended on a full-time basis, were enrolled in programs designed for transfer to four-year institutions, changed their major programs of study more than one time, and received financial assistance persisted at higher rates than did other students at Walters State. These findings should be communicated with all college personnel in an effort to increase their sensitivity to the "special" needs of these "at-risk" constituencies. Furthermore, the findings should be used in developing a retention plan that incorporates programs and services designed to address the needs of targeted audiences as identified in this study.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access