Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Pregliasco, Bridgette O.


Dropout behavior, Prediction of; Nontraditional college students; College dropouts; Academic achievement


For more than 100 years, nearly half of all undergraduate students have failed to persist to degree completion (ACT, 2010; Tinto, 1993; U.S. Department of Education, 2008). To make matters worse, adult students have consistently been victims of higher levels of attrition than their traditional student counterparts (Justice & Dornan, 2001; National Adult Attitudes Report, 2008). This study utilized the theoretical underpinnings from the Bean and Metzner (1985) Conceptual Model of Nontraditional Undergraduate Student Attrition and Braxton, Hirschy, and McClendon's (2004) Theory of Student Departure in Commuter College and Universities model to create a new model to examine variables that impact persistence among adult students over the age of twenty-five in a degree-completion program at the bachelor's level. An internet-based self-report survey was constructed to measure variables from three constructs including student entry variables, internal campus/academic variables, and external environment variables. The sample came from the Bachelor of Science in Workforce Leadership program at the University of Louisville which includes adults ranging from ages 25-67. Hypotheses were tested through correlational and logistic regression analytic procedures. Educational goal, finances, and active learning were all significant predictors of persistence, controlling for all other variables in the equation and accounted for 35.4% of the variance among all variables. Students who reported higher educational goals, sufficient finances to pay for school, and content relevant active learning were more likely to persist. Implications for theory, research, and practice are highlighted as possible strategic leverage points for creating policies and procedures that will aid in adult student retention in degree completion programs at four-year universities.