Factors associated with persistence of adult students attending a community college
Wade, Margaret Gaston
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Student retention is a critical issue. Using the retention model of Bean and Metzner (1985), the main problem of this study was to determine at Midland College which variables best described the differences between adult students (25 years and older) who persisted from Fall 1994 to Spring 1995 semesters and those who did not persist. This study had three purposes. The first purpose was to determine the differences between those adult students who persisted from Fall 1994 to Spring 1995 semesters and those adult students who did not persist from Fall 1994 to Spring 1995 semesters. The second purpose was to formulate an equation to assist community college educators in predicting the individual success of entering adult students. A third purpose was to make program recommendations to aid in the retention of adults. The methodology included the development and distribution of two questionnaires. The first questionnaire was distributed the fourth week of classes, the second one on the twelfth week. Information was also gathered on each student from the registrar. A total of 523 out of 1,702 students over the age of 25 completed both questionnaires for a usable response rate of 31%. Discriminant analysis was the statistical method used to answer the eight research questions, to test the 53 hypotheses, and to fulfill the purposes of this study. Discriminant analysis enabled the researcher to describe the differences between persisters and nonpersisters and to formulate an equation to predict student group membership. The major findings of the study were as follows. In describing the differences between the two groups of students, 15 of 52 variables proved to be significant. In formulating the equation to predict group membership, 19 of the 52 variables were found to be significant. The prediction equation formulated was found to predict group membership correctly in 79% of all cases. Based on chance, group membership would have been correctly identified only 57% of the time. Policy and procedure recommendations were made based on these findings. The researcher concluded that commitment to an educational goal seemed to be the overriding characteristic that distinguished persisters from nonpersisters.