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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Michelle Ann Bakerson
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research, and Technology
Title: Persistence and Success: A Study of Cognitive, Social, and Institutional Factors Related to Retention of Kalamazoo Promise Recipients at Western Michigan University
Dr. Gary Miron, Chair
Dr. Jessaca Spybrook
Dr. Andrea Beach
Date: Thursday, October 29, 2009 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
204 Bernhard Center
The Kalamazoo Promise is a universal scholarship program announced in November 2005 that provides four years of tuition and fees at any of Michigan’s two or four-year public colleges or universities for students who have attended Kalamazoo Public Schools. This investment in the community is being replicated elsewhere across the nation, including Denver and Pittsburgh. The scholarship program lowers the cost of postsecondary education, thereby increasing incentives for high school graduation, college enrollment, and college completion. Of the 307 Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship recipients that have attended Western Michigan University since its inception, 16% have not persisted.
The main objectives of this study are to: (1) examine persisters and non-persisters in terms of the cognitive, social and institutional factors related to retention, (2) examine persisters and non-persisters in terms of courses taken, and (3) examine non-response bias in terms of respondents, late respondents, and non-respondents.
Following are some of the key findings from the dissertation. Students who persisted are more likely to be white and more likely to have a higher GPA. Similarly, college course completion rates are higher for white students. As a contribution to research and evaluation, a number of different approaches are used to study potential non-response bias among scholarship recipients. Depending on the approach, small or insignificant differences in non-response bias are identified. Because non-response bias is minimal, the overall findings and conclusions are viewed as valid and did not need to be adjusted.
Various factors in the literature found to contribute to retention of students does not function as expected with this population. Further research using these results as a benchmark will be required to more fully understand persistence and success of Kalamazoo Promise recipients.