Date of Award

Fall 10-16-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Rong Chen, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Joseph Stetar, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert Kelchen, Ph.D.


academic engagement, college student persistence


To remain globally competitive, the United States continues to set forth federal initiatives to promote college retention, persistence, and graduation. While employers seek graduates who demonstrate strong collaboration, communication, and time management skills, research reveals the level of academic engagement on college campuses is low. Although several factors contribute to first-year student persistence, researchers suggest that academically engaged students who participate in educationally purposeful activities in college are more likely to intend to persist than disengaged students.

Combining national data from the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE), National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), and the First Year Experience (FYE) module, the purpose of this quantitative, correlational study is to understand the extent to which academic engagement factors— specifically student-faculty interactions, learning strategies, and collaborative learning— influence college students’ intention to persist.

Utilizing Tinto’s (1975) Interactionist Theory of Student Departure and Astin’s (1984) Theory of Student Involvement as theoretical frameworks, the study examines differences in population means for academic engagement variables based on demographic characteristics, and finds associations between intention to persist and various control variables. Further analysis shares insight on the relationship (or lack thereof) between intention to persist and academic engagement indicators, and provides recommendations on how institutions can play a key role in student success.