Date of Award

2002

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

School

School of Education

Program

Higher Education Administration PhD

First Advisor

Lyndon G. Furst

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Loretta B. Johns

Abstract

Problem. This research examined student background characteristics, student social and institutional integrations, and their relation to attrition rates of freshman students at a public Midwestern commuter university.

Method. A quantitative research methodology based on empirical data collection was used utilizing a 101-question research instrument consisting of two sections: student demographic, and five factorially derived scales developed by Pascarella and Terenzini (1980) which operationalized Tinto's (1975) conceptual model of college student withdrawal. Chi-square, analysis of variance, and Pearson product-moment correlation were used to identify factors related to student academic persistence and attrition.

Results. The study found that, in general, factors external to the institution such as studentbackground characteristics did not relate to freshman student academic persistence/attrition. The study also found that four of the five Pascarella and Terenzini (1980) scales did not differentiate between freshman, transfer, and stop-out students, and three of the five scales did not differentiate between persisters and non-persisters; however, interaction effects were found between type of student and level of persistence on two of the five scales, and only one scale differentiated between persister/nonpersister students by traditional/non-traditional student type.

Conclusion. The study did not substantiate the validity of Tinto's (1975) model of student persistence and attrition from college for freshman/non-traditional students at a public Midwestern university. His theory and model were found to be inadequate to explain the difference between persister/non-persister students at this university. A new model and research instrument of academic persistence and attrition based on internal institutional variables are therefore needed.

Subject Area

College dropouts--Prevention, College freshmen, College students--Michigan--Berrien County

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