Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Donald Good

Committee Members

Susan Epps, Jill Channing, Loretta Griffy


Retention has been a focus of universities and policy makers for decades. However, there is a gap in research of Pell-eligible and first-generation student retention and completion. Researchers have indicated that peers can influence retention of other students. Using the theories of Astin (1993) and Tinto (1993) as the framework, this study explored near-peer coaching effects on retention of Pell-eligible and first-generation students. The study focused on the College Possible Catalyze program which trains near-peer coaches for partnering institutions. near-peer coaches were assigned 120 first-time full-time Pell-eligible or first-generation students at two partnering institutions. The study compared the retention of students being coached and retention of students in the same categories not coached.

A series of statistical analyses were conducted including chi-square, t-tests, and logistical regression in order to test for associations of retention of students with and without a coach, associations of GPA of students with and without a coach, and if there is a predictive association controlling for coach, Pell-eligible, and first-generation indicators. All analyses indicated a strong significance between coaching and both spring and fall retention in all groups. Students who were coached were retained at significantly higher rates than students without a coach. There was a positive significant association in GPA and coaching for both groups. Results indicated there were strong predictive association in retention controlling for Pell-eligible and first-generation factors. The results provide clarity on programming that can directly affect first-year retention in the Pell-eligible and first-generation populations.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.