Have a Question?
Ask the Graduate
College at our new
Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Betty D. Dennis
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: Retaining Exploring Students: A Comparison Study of Decided and Undecided College Students
Dr. Charles Warfield, Chair
Dr. Walter Burt
Dr. Diane Anderson
Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2007 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
The Emeriti Lounge, Walwood Hall
Four-year institutions in the United States graduate fewer than 50 percent of their first-time, full-time, degree-seeking students within six years. Today, improving college student retention and graduation rates is a primary focus of higher education nationwide. Scholars have found that students who enter college undecided and are still exploring majors need a great deal of support to be retained. Research has also demonstrated that between 20 and 50 percent of entering freshmen have not selected a major course of study and that colleges and universities are concerned these students are at a higher risk of leaving the institution. What is unclear is whether selecting a major influences retention rates (to sophomore year), grade point average, and graduation rates (within six years) for college students. Likewise, it is also unclear as to whether or not these same variables are impacted across race and gender.
The purpose of this study is to compare students who entered college without a major program of study with those who entered decided on a major. The research focused on two goals: 1) to examine whether there was a difference in retention rates, grade point averages, and graduation rates for first-year (freshmen) students who entered college undecided with those who entered with a declared major, and 2) to measure the demographic influences of race and gender on these same variables for both groups.
This study employed quantitative methods through ANOVA, correlation, and regression analysis in order to examine students attending a midwestern institution beginning in the fall of 2000 (n=4435) to determine if there is a difference in retention rates (to sophomore year), grade point average, and graduation rates (within six years) between students who selected a major with those who have not. ANOVA analysis was also used to determine if race and gender impact these variables.
The study showed that there is a statistically significant difference in both retention and graduation rates for undecided and decided students, but no difference in grade point average. However, when race and gender are considered, there is a statistically significant difference in all three of the variables between the two groups.