Student Retention

“Administrators’ Perceptions of Factors Related to Student Retention at Colleges with a Significant Black Student Enrollment Affiliated with the Association for Biblical Higher Education”

By Wesley B. Wilson

A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education

College of Education

Columbia International University

2013

 

Abstract

This study described and explored the factors perceived as relevant to student retention

by administrators at colleges and universities with significant Black student populations.

The sample was 31 institutions affiliated with the Association for Biblical Higher

Education (ABHE) that had Black student enrollment of 20% or more. The study sought

to determine what factors administrators considered important to retention, and whether

the retention factors considered most important by administrators of high retention

colleges differed from those considered important at low retention colleges.

Administrators considered students' financial resources and academic abilities the most

important of seven broad retention factors, and believed that institutions have only

limited ability to affect retention. Rankings of six institutional characteristics and 35

grouped programs and practices, as well as frequencies of 23 programs and practices

showed that institutions with higher retention rates (a) valued and used more retention

programming than low retention institutions, (b) employed a more comprehensive array

of strategies that addressed both students' academic and financial needs, (c) engaged

students earlier, (d) used interpersonal delivery of advisement and academic support, (e)

used more direct and intensive practices, and (f) focused on proactive, institution-driven

approaches. The programs most used and valued by high retention institutions included

advising and orientation before enrollment, and early warning/monitoring, tutoring, and

remedial classes after enrollment. Recommendations are made for further research on

advising interventions with particular focus on financial aid advising, the use of

interpersonal delivery of services and support, early interaction with students and

potential students, and factors relevant to retention of Black students.

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