Committee Chair

Crawford, Elizabeth K.

Committee Member

Rausch, David W.; Banks, Steven R.; Bernard, Hinsdale


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


This study examined factors that may affect the retention of first-time, full-time college freshmen to sophomore year. Institutions in the Appalachian College Association (ACA) were invited to participate, and nine of the 35 member schools provided data. The research questions were (1) Is there a relationship between retention for students’ sophomore year and any of the following and (2) Based on any relationships identified in RQ 1, are there two or more variables that predict retention status for students? The data set contained 7,198 student records. The independent variables included: High school GPA, cumulative college GPA at the end of the freshman year, ACT score, gender, ethnicity, and residency status. The dependent variable was retention to sophomore year. Research question 1 used correlation analysis to establish relationships between the independent variables and retention. Point-biserial correlation analysis was performed for the three scale independent variables, ACT score, high school GPA, and cumulative college GPA. Pearson’s chi-square was performed for the 3 nominal independent variables, gender, residency status, and ethnicity. The correlation analysis showed that 5 of the 6 variables had statistical significance with retention. Research question 2 used regression analysis to examine the independent variables’ ability to predict retention to sophomore year. Cumulative college GPA and residency status showed the strongest ability to predict retention to sophomore year. Results from this study may encourage colleges and universities to begin or promote programs designed to assist students with maintaining a favorable GPA, such as study skills sessions or active learning environments. Information contained here may also lead to development of initiatives designed to increase social integration for students. These initiatives may include new programs or better scheduling of current offerings. Further research areas include using this methodology on other campuses, as well as developing a qualitative or mixed methods study to use at a single campus. Of the schools in the ACA, there may be interest in comparing schools considered more conservative with those considered more liberal. Finally, predictive analytics may be employed to examine other variables common among students who retain for sophomore year.


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




College freshmen; Prediction of scholastic success; College dropouts -- Prevention


Retention; Freshmen retention; First-time, full-time freshmen; Retention factors

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




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