Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Curriculum and Instruction PhD

First Advisor

Paul S. Brantley

Second Advisor

Wilfred G. A. Futcher

Third Advisor

John Youngsberg


Problem. Most new undergraduate students begin college with the highest hope of finishing their educational programs. Unfortunately, a large number of students drop out prior to graduation. This is particularly true of nontraditional students who attend nonresidential commuter colleges. This study investigates the differences between nontraditional commuter students who persist through to completion, and those who do not.

Method. A total of 436 Davenport College students, 65 males and 371 females, was surveyed for this study. They were full or part-time, certificate, diploma, or degree-seeking students at one of five Davenport campuses: South Bend and Merrillville, Indiana; Grand Rapids, Alma, and Kalamazoo, Michigan. The Davenport College New Student Survey and the Hines College Student Persistence Inventory, which were developed for this study, were group administered during several sittings at the various campuses in October 1997. ASSET scores (reading, writing, and numerical skills) were collected from Davenport College student records for all participants. The data were analyzed using, t-tests, chi-square and discriminant analysis.

Results. The Hines College Student Persistence Inventory was found to be statistically reliable (Cronbach's alpha) in pilot studies. However, only one of the four scales, social consciousness, was predictive of college student persistence. There exists a linear combination of the independent variables which significantly (p <. 05) discriminates between persisters and nonpersisters (chi-square of 81.28, df = 51) with 78.3% correct classification. In general, the data suggest that nonpersisters are more likely to indicate that they will not register for the winter quarter, have low self-reported high-school GPAs, and low self-ratings of completion chances. They tend to be veterans, not receiving veteran's tuition benefits, enrolled part-time with low attendance self-ratings, cigarette smokers, and not Protestant. Their parents are not paying their tuition and they tend to work nearly full-time (approximately 30 hours per week) and score low on the social consciousness scale of the Hines College Student Persistence Inventory.

Conclusions. The major significant finding of this study is a combination of 12 variables that predicts 57% better than chance those students who are at risk of dropping out. This information may prove beneficial in Davenport's student retention programs.

Subject Area

College dropouts--Prevention, Commuting college students.

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