CEC Theses and Dissertations


A Longitudinal Database Study of the Factors Influencing Retention for the Spring 1992 Degree- Seeking Students At Atlantic Community college

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Center for Computer and Information Sciences


Steven R. Terrell

Committee Member

Barry Centini

Committee Member

John May

Committee Member

George K. Fornshell


Retention is important to the success of any computer training and learning initiative. In the community college, retention has been inadequately studied and the factors that influence it are not well understood. This paper examines the first time, degree seeking, and non-ESL students at Atlantic Community College who entered spring of 1992. It follows this cohort, semester by semester, to learn which factors influence semester to semester retention. After two years, the cohort is examined to determine which factors, present at entry, influence long-term attendance and graduation.

Analysis of the data suggests that academic success, measured by GPA, is a strong determinant for all semesters and for long-term attendance and graduation. There was no significant difference in retention for gender or ethnicity. Students who stated at entrance an intent to transfer prior to earning a degree were less likely to retain after four semesters or to graduate.

Students who tested into developmental courses retained at the same rate as those who proved competency. If developmental students completed the required developmental course the first semester, they retained at almost the same or at a higher rate as non-developmental students. In contrast, developmental students who did not complete the required developmental course the first semester had significantly lower retention to second semester.

The retention rate increased from semester to semester. While 60. 2 % of the students returned for the second semester, by the fifth semester, 88% of the students attending the previous semester either returned or graduated. At the end of four semesters, in spring 1994, discriminant analysis showed the following: Academic progress, measured by GPA in the last semester attended, and completion of developmental course work in math during the first semester, are the major factors influencing the number of semesters attended.

This finding has implications for community colleges, many of whose students require developmental work. Results from this paper will be used to guide Atlantic Community College in the use of resources and will help the college in defining the data elements necessary in an ongoing retention database. This database can be used as a benchmark for measuring the effectiveness of future retention efforts.

This document is currently not available here.

  Link to NovaCat