School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Frederick Volk


Persistence, Community College, Student Engagement




Community colleges enroll large numbers of students each year. However, their retention rates are dismal and have remained stagnant for more than 30 years. The low retention rates have serious implications for community colleges and the community at large. Low retention rates impact such things as individual health and well-being as well as funding for colleges to operate. As such, this correlational study was designed to understand the relationship between student engagement and specific student characteristics and persistence in college. The specific student engagement variables examined were student-faculty interaction, college GPA, academic self-efficacy, late registration, and sense of belonging. Moderation and mediation analysis examined the effects of race, first-generation status, and high school GPA. Data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) that was administered at Tidewater Community College (TCC) was used for the analysis. The analysis revealed that high school GPA and student-faculty interaction are positively related to college GPA. Additionally, it found student-faculty interaction to be positively related to persistence. None of the moderation and mediation hypotheses were supported in the study. Given some of the issues found with the research design used for this study, it was recommended that future research consider conducting focus groups or interviews to study persistence instead of using archival data.

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