Publication Date

2015-08-03

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2015-08-03

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EDD)

Department

Educational and Psychological Studies (Education)

Date of Defense

2015-05-07

First Committee Member

Soyeon Ahn

Second Committee Member

Marie-Guerda Nicolas

Third Committee Member

Scott Ingold

Fourth Committee Member

Tywan G. Martin

Abstract

The topic of retention has been considered one of the most studied areas of research in higher education within and outside the United States. Similarly, higher education in Ecuador has recently put their efforts to optimize students’ retention and degree attainment in college. However, Ecuador is lacking in its research that guides researchers and administrators to design the most effective strategy for enhancing students’ retention in college. Therefore, the present study is especially important in that it would build a cornerstone in higher education research in a country where there is minimal work in the area of retention. With a hope to provide valuable insights to improve retention rates for the higher education institutions in Ecuador, the current study examined the role of the potential factors that were known to be related to students’ graduation. Secondary data consisting of student information enrolled at a small private university in Ecuador between 2006 and 2008 was analyzed using a sequential logistic regression model, where the influence of pre-college characteristics on whether a student graduated within six years or not was examined. Results from a sequential logistic regression model showed that high school GPA and admission test scores were positively related to whether a student graduated or not within six years. And, it was also found that the odds of student’s graduation varied by the areas of study, showing that students in the STEM area are less likely to graduate from college within six years when compared to students in other fields of study. The current study suggested considering a number of important students’ characteristics in developing the strategies for enhancing students’ retention at the higher education institutions in Ecuador. In particular, this study supported the needs of early intervention prior to the recruitment of high school students that should be continued throughout college. Universities in collaboration with high schools recommend providing students with preparatory courses that build a solid academic foundation before college. In addition, university administrators need to focus on the development of the reliable and valid prediction model that help identify at-risk students who need the target intervention. Then, faculty and student affairs should be actively involved in guiding and tutoring students and providing professional counseling programs designed to closely supervise and support at-risk students. Future research on the topic of retention in Ecuador should involve the inclusion of other variables such as in-college characteristics including institutional experiences, integration, and goals and commitments in predicting the outcome of graduation in Ecuador.

Keywords

College student retention; Pre-college characteristics; College graduation; Area of study; Students’ demographics; Logistic regression

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