Committee Chair

Crawford, Elizabeth K.

Committee Member

Rausch, David; Banks, Steven R.; Freeman, Yancy E.


School of Professional Studies


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


Years of research in higher education have focused on innovations in curricula and student support services aimed toward improving student retention and success. Despite this, increases in student enrollment and degree completions have not increased. In 2009, the federal American Graduation Initiative began with the goal to achieve 10 million more U.S. citizens with postsecondary credentials by 2020. The state of Tennessee enacted the 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act, resulting in new statewide strategies to achieve goals for credential attainment. One strategy was the guided pathway approach, intended to increase associate and baccalaureate degree completions and reduce the number of credit hours accumulated beyond degree requirements. The purpose of this study was to explore whether Tennessee Transfer Pathway (TTP) enrollment was associated with differences in student success outcomes after transfer to one of the University of Tennessee System (UTS) universities. The primary goals were to determine if differences existed in baccalaureate degree achievement or cumulative credit hours, between TTP transfer, nonTTP transfer, and native student subgroups within the UTS institutions, and whether there were relationships between these pathways and success outcomes. Attribute variables were also analyzed for association with degree completion or the number of accumulated credit hours at the time of graduation. A total of 119,000 UTS students, enrolled over a five-year period, were statistically analyzed for differences using chi-square and ANOVA tests and for associations by conducting logistic and linear regression analyses. Results showed that statistically significant differences in degree completion existed between the native and transfer subgroups, and TTP students were found to be more likely to complete a baccalaureate degree, but effects were weak. TTP subgroup numbers were small (n = 1,291). Conversely, no clear association was found between TTP enrollment and cumulative credit hours. Finally, results showed some attribute variables were significant in predictive success modeling, but associations were weak. The Black, non-Hispanic racial-ethnicity category was found to have statistically significant negative associations with degree completions and cumulative credit hours consistently across all subgroups. The TTP program did not improve the likelihood of completion for these students.


I have many people to thank for their support during this doctoral degree journey. First, and foremost, on the list are my family members. From the time of my master’s degree graduation, my father, Ernest Wenczl, encouraged me to pursue a doctoral degree, and he was so proud when I was accepted into the UTC Learning and Leadership doctoral program; I will never forget the expression on his face. Without fail, he, my mother, Eva Wenczl, and stepmother, Sandra Wenczl, remained positive and reassured me that I would finish. Further, earning this degree would not have been possible without my loving and supportive husband, Jack Hohimer. His love, patience, and faith carried me through the toughest times, and he consistently held the ultimate vision of completion before me. My children have also been supportive and proud of their mother for pursuing this degree later in my career and for the sole purpose of learning. I hope Joseph Lewis, Kaitlyn Hohimer, and Alex Lewis will always remember the persistence it has taken to reach this goal, and that they find encouragement from it when pursuing their own milestones. In addition, I am grateful for my dissertation Chair, Dr. Beth Crawford, and committee members, Dr. David Rausch, Dr. Steven Banks, and Dr. Yancy Freeman, for their generous time commitment and insightful guidance. Moreover, from the beginning, Drs. Crawford and Rausch challenged and inspired me to learn and excel in the program, and to think critically and more broadly than ever before. Returning to the classroom after thirty years was daunting, but they expressed belief in me, which made a substantial difference in my progression. I also thank my methodologist and statistics advisor, Dr. Banks, who patiently allowed me to express my big ideas, questions, and frustrations and advised me through them. Finally, I would not have been able to conduct or complete this research without the generous help of those at UTC and the UT System Office. I am thankful for the other LEAD professors who influenced my learning by offering their expertise, experience, and guidance, including Dr. Ted Miller, Dr. Pamala Carter, and Dr. Elizabeth O’Brien. From the UT System Office, Dr. Brian Hester, Director of Institutional Research, guided me through the maze of data sources, and Dr. Jay Eckles, Director of Business Intelligence, kindly pulled and anonymized the data I requested. Thereafter, other colleagues offered their technical expertise to help merge and clean the data, including Dr. Chris Silver, UTC Assistant Professor, Sean Kerins, UAB Project Director, and Shweta Patil, UAB Advanced Data Analyst. There have been many other friends, colleagues, and family members who have walked alongside me in this journey. I am fortunate to have these wonderful individuals in my life. Though this part of my learning journey has come to an end, it has been said that completing the dissertation is really another beginning. Onward!


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.




Transfer students--Tennessee; Education, Higher--Tennessee


guided pathways; Tennessee Transfer Pathways; Complete College Tennessee Act; Choice Theory; transfer pathways; degree completion

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiv, 140 leaves