Publication Date

2015-05-08

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2015-05-08

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Department

Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense

2015-03-02

First Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Second Committee Member

Susan Mullane

Third Committee Member

Tywan Martin

Fourth Committee Member

Isis Artze-Vega

Abstract

College graduation has known to have long-term effects on individuals, institutions, and countries’ economies. Even though the issue of students leaving college before graduation has been studied for almost a century, retention rates have remained almost stagnant. In many studies conducted in the United States, students’ pre-college traits have been found to predict student’s retention during the first two years of college. However, research on retention is lacking in Ecuador. The current study examined how a number of pre- and in-college characteristics were related to college student retention during the first two years of post-secondary studies in Ecuador. Using data about 1480 freshmen that attended a small private university in Ecuador between 2006 and 2012, this study examined a number of factors related to students’ retention. In particular, the effects of pre-college factors (type of high school, gender, age, high school grade point average [GPA], and entry exam score) and college GPA on second- and third-year enrollment were examined using a series of sequential logistic regression models. Study findings indicated that most of the independent variables were found to be significant in predicting student’s retention for at least one of the cohorts studied. However, college GPA and age was the factors that were found as the stronger predictors of retention in the first year, while college GPA was the most powerful in both first and second year. The influence of pre- and in-college variables was stronger in magnitude on the first year, losing predicting power on the second year with the exception of college GPA. In spite of some limitations inherent to the study that might limit its generalizability due to the use of secondary data, the current study shed light on the student retention issue in higher education in Ecuador. In particular, the study would help higher education administrators identify at-risk students and provide effective interventions that might help prevent students’ dropout from the university. Furthermore, it is hoped that this study would guide researchers to conduct more similar studies using the data from different Ecuadorian universities so that students’ retention issues in Ecuador can be better understood.

Keywords

Retention; first-year of college; attrition

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