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ERIC Number: ED523226
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 233
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1243-8350-7
Models of College Persistence Intentions
Fry, Donald W.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The University of Oklahoma
While withdrawal from higher education may be the result of many reasons both within and beyond the control of the student or the institution, the intent of not returning to higher education indicates the acceptance of a permanent disassociation with the pursuit of the higher education endeavor. It is of paramount importance in understanding the relationship between our higher education institutions and our society that those engaged in institutional research develop the fullest understanding of this phenomenon and its implications for the future of those institutions and that society. In order to do this, however, we must look beyond the actual behavior of dropping out and examine the academic intentions underlying those behaviors. This study brought together two lines of research, one drawn from behavioral theory and one from college persistence theory, to develop a model of intentions relating specifically to college persistence intentions. Two disciplines, behavioral theory and higher education persistence theory have developed along different paths in determining effects on behavior. Each has important implications related to the prediction of college students' decisions to stay in or leave higher education. While each theory is useful, neither is adequate to fully address why and if students will persist in college. First, behavioral theorists have made the distinction between intentions and action. One such theorist, Ajzen, concluded that intentions play the central and primary role in determining actions and developed the Theory of Planned Behavior around this concept. Second, educational researchers have developed models of college persistence that can classified into the perspectives of sociological, psychological, organizational, and economic. The problem identified was that these two lines of research have never been brought together in the examination of college persistence. This study addressed how to integrate these areas of research in the examination of college persistence and, by doing so, addressed a void in research concerning intentions in college persistence. The study utilized the background, pre-collegiate experience, and collegiate experience data reported by 372 freshmen and sophomore students at a four-year higher education institution in the development and evaluation of path models for intentions to persist in higher education. This quantitative study analyzed the relationships found to exist among these variables and utilized path analysis techniques in the determination of models of freshman and sophomore college student intentions toward future participation in higher education. Specifically, research questions focused on four areas of analysis: 1) pre-collegiate variables that influence perceptions of higher education experiences; 2) sociological, psychological, organizational, and economic perceptions of higher education experiences that influence intentions regarding participation in higher education; 3) interactions between pre-collegiate variables and perceptions of higher education experiences that influence intentions for participation in higher education; and 4) development of causal models that resulted from the observed relationships among pre-collegiate variables, perceptions of higher education experiences, and intentions for participation in higher education. Path analysis procedures resulted in rather complex models for intentions of persistence, whether at the same institution or at a different institution, as well as for undecided intentions. On the other hand, path analysis procedures resulted in far less complex models for intentions of stopping out, whether returning to the same institution or a different institution, as well as for intentions of dropping out. All models, however, met the criteria established for goodness-of-fit and parsimony which characterize accurate and useful models of the phenomena. While collegiate experience factors varied noticeably among the models, several background and pre-collegiate experience variables appeared consistently among the models: mother's education, certainty of major, expectations of attending college, quality of guidance, satisfaction with high school life, distance, and years between graduate. This observation highlighted the relevance of the factors to all of the persistence intention dependent variables. The study contributed to research in higher education persistence through the development of path models for these intentions. These models were developed to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the character and nature of persistence and departure decisions among college students. The study represented an attempt to look deeper into higher education persistence and attrition phenomena by examining, analyzing, and modeling the academic intentions underlying those actions. An examination of the background, pre-collegiate, and collegiate factors encompassed in this study and their role in the development of academic intentions of students regarding higher education provided causal models that can be used to guide our understanding of intentions regarding participation in higher education for freshman and sophomore students. While college persistence and subsequent graduation are still challenges facing American higher education, the pursuit of a deeper understanding of the character and nature of these constructs offers the hope of addressing these challenges to the benefit of all concerned. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A