The impact of educational experience on student persistence at six public universities

Gregory J Schutz, Tennessee State University


Americans grade higher education institutions on their ability to successfully graduate students. Moreover, degree attainment is the primary goal for both higher education institutions and its students and is important to the economic, social, and political life of a state. Although there are many studies of college impact and many studies of student departure, there are few multi-institutional studies that over time address the impact of higher education institutions on student outcomes. Furthermore, the small sample sizes of individuals within institutions in national data sets deter policy makers on how to improve individual campuses. This research presents an understanding of organizational and individual contributors to degree completion. The scope of research in this study measures the impact of individual and organizational variables on the persistence (opposite of student departure) of recent high school first-time full-time degree-seeking students at six Tennessee universities. The Berger and Milem Organizational Impact on Student Outcomes Model serves as the conceptual theory, and a logistical regression case approach determines the impact, significance and strength, of both organizational and individual variables. The results of this study show inconsistent and weak impact by institutions on student persistence. Conversely, the results show specific and measurable student academic characteristics and behaviors that do affect persistence. This study recommends a clear focus on the academic behaviors of completing 20 hours in the first year of college and maintaining a college GPA consistent with the high school GPA. The study also highlights the key component of academic preparation and the relationship between college and high school within a state system of education. The study describes two demographic issues that show different persistence rates among distinct groups of students. Finally, while organizational impact variables have clear policy implications, organizational impact measurements, as in other studies, proved to be weak.

Subject Area

Educational sociology|Public administration|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Gregory J Schutz, "The impact of educational experience on student persistence at six public universities" (2007). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI3259043.