Date of Award

Summer 7-29-2016

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Trevor A. Turner

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara Hill

Third Advisor

Dr. Darrell Groves

Abstract

This mixed methods research study used a QUAN-QUAL Model to examine the impact that various factors have on student persistence to graduation in postsecondary education. A documentary research approach was used to collect secondary or existing data from the student information system for first-time full-time freshmen in the Fall 2008 Cohort who graduated within six years. The size of the sample for the quantitative inquiry was 211. A correlational research design was employed to determine if a significant relationship existed between the dependent variables—Persistence to Graduation within Six Years (YEAR) and Final GPA at Time of Degree Completion (FIN GPA)—and the independent variables, Financial Aid Awarded (FINAID), High School GPA (HSGPA), ACT Composite Score (ACT COMP), SAT Combined Score (SAT COMB), First-Year First-Semester GPA (FYFS GPA), First-Year Cumulative GPA (FY GPA), Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), and On-Campus or Off-Campus Housing (ON-OFF CAMP). Descriptive statistical analyses were used to describe, summarize, and interpret the data collected.

A case study research approach was used to gain an in-depth understanding into the real-life experiences of a small group of students who did not graduate within six years and who were still persisting toward degree attainment. The Graduation: Survey of Undergraduate Persistence questionnaire was distributed to the participants to gain a holistic understanding of the impact that family, faculty, peers, financial resources, and other environmental influences had on their experiences while persisting toward a college degree. Four questionnaires were completed and returned, followed by three in-depth interviews. The findings from the survey and interviews on the role of financial aid supported the quantitative findings on the relationship between financial aid awarded and persistence to graduation. In the quantitative data analysis, persistence to graduation within six years was significant and positively related to the number of occurrences of financial aid awarded. As the number of financial aid occurrences decreased, the number of years to graduate decreased. Alternatively, an increase in the number of financial aid occurrences resulted in an increase in years to graduate. Postsecondary educational leaders and P-12 educational leaders can utilize the study in forming partnerships to foster collaboration and a “move to action” in preparing students to do college-level course work upon graduating from high school.

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