Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

College of Education and Human Development

Committee Chair

Wilson, Kristin Bailey

Author's Keywords

Retention; Community college; Persistence; Developmental education; Collective affiliation; Tinto


College attendance--Kentucky; College dropouts--Kentucky; Academic achievement--Kentucky; Mathematics--Study and teaching (Higher)--Kentucky


From 1988 to 2006, between 40% and 60% of all first-time community college students are referred to and enroll in at least one developmental education course; some colleges reported as high as 80 percent (e.g. Attewell, Lavin, Domina, & Levey, 2006; Bers & Smith, 1991; Bettinger & Long, 2005; Boughan & Clagett, 1995; Brawer, 1996). More students begin college less prepared in math than any other developmental area (e.g. ACT, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009; Attewell, Lavin, Domina, & Levey, 2006; Bettinger & Long, 2005; Cartnal, 1999). The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between a set of predictor variables and student persistence for persons enrolled at a state-supported two-year community and technical college system. The Collective Affiliation model, based on previous student persistence research in the Tinto tradition, was created and used was in this study specifically for community college, commuter and distance education students. The participants were Kentucky Community and Technical College students enrolled in the developmental math course, MT065, Basic Algebra. The predictor variables were student demographic characteristics, and variables related to work, family and academic factors. The dependent variable was persistence (defined as re-enrollment or the awarding of a credential or transfer). The results revealed academic factors have the greatest influence on persistence. It provides nuances and further insight into developmental education students while calling into question the validity of sociological constructs. Lastly, the study shows how state and local policy can have an impact on student persistence.