The impact of integrative experiences and external commitment on non-traditional undergraduate retention
Newman, Daniel Edward
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This study provides an analysis of the correlation of integrative experiences and commitments with the persistence of non-traditional baccalaureate students. Additionally, this study provides a test of the factor stability of a questionnaire developed for examining non-traditional student persistence. Vincent Tinto's (1993) model of voluntary student departure is the theoretical framework for the study and the College Experiences Survey (Allison, 1999) is the research instrument. Analyses were conducted on a sample of 217 adult undergraduates at a Boston-area college. The mission of this college is to serve the higher-education needs of working adults from diverse socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds. The college was founded in 1971. The findings suggest that for non-traditional baccalaureate students: (1) Academic Effort has a significant correlation with voluntary departure, (2) Social Integration has no correlation with voluntary departure, (3) Commitment and Belonging conelates with departure decisions, but has a small effect size in the discriminant function, and (4) External Commitments correlates with departure decisions only due to family obligations. The factor structure of the College Experiences Survey, found in an earlier study, was not replicated in this study, which suggests that this survey does not have reasonable factor stability nor is it a stable predictor of attrition. Further research should focus on: the effect of students' length of time in program on the relative importance of academic integration on voluntary withdrawal; academic integration needs of non-traditional students; effects of academic and social integration on stop-out rather than drop-out behavior; the formulation of a path model of the factors, including gender, that affect persistence; and further examining the factor stability of the CES.
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