All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Linda Searby

Advisory Committee Members

Loucrecia Collins

John A Dantzler

Brent Gage

Gary B Peters

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) School of Education

Abstract

Student retention is an area of concern both academically and financially for higher education institutions. With the state of the current economy, finances are a critical component to higher education institutions. Retention rates, in addition to graduation rates, are used for assessing the overall success of an institution and in some instances future funding. According to Schneider (2010), only 60% of undergraduate students matriculate from four-year institutions within six years of initial enrollment. One population, first-generation college students, are 1.3 times more likely than their non-first-generation peers to leave an institution during their first year of college (Ishitani, 2006). The purpose of this study was to intentionally examine the retention of an at-risk population, first-generation college students. Quantitative analysis of multiple logistic regression was used to investigate the relationship of retention of first-generation college students and number of academic advisor appointments along with gender, race and major. The theoretical framework for this study was comprised of three student retention models including: (a) Interactionalist Theory of College Student Departure (Tinto, 1987), (b) Theory of Involvement (Astin, 1984, 1999), and (c) Bean and Eaton's Psychological Model of Student Retention (Bean & Eaton, 2000). The results of this research are intended to fill the gap in the literature for first-generation college students related to advising and student retention. The results indicated that the model's goodness-of-fit was not as strong of an indicator for first-generation college student retention, and the variables of gender, race and major were not significant. However, the variable of number of advisor meetings was significant in the equation. Academic advising is a significant component in the retention of first-generation college students. The results of the research are intended to inform upper level administrators, deans, advising centers and retention specialists of emerging trends related to working with first-generation college students. Specifically, the findings should help decision-makers as they plan, implement, and assess programs and resources for first-generation college students and the importance of utilizing, supporting and training of academic advisors.

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