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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN STATE APPROPRIATIONS AND STUDENT RETENTION AT PUBLIC, FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION

by Kolb, Marcus Michael.

Abstract (Summary)
The purpose of this quantitative study was to identify and explore the relationship between state appropriations and freshman to sophomore retention at public, four year institutions of higher education. Additional questions concerning the users of retention programming – learning centers, summer bridge programs, and freshman seminars – emerged during the analysis of the initial question. Data sources included the College Board annual survey of institutions, WebCASPAR, Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, and email surveying of the 271 institutions included in the sample for the years 1991 and 1996. The data was used in a series of multiple regressions and fixed effects regressions. The fixed effects method was viable since the same institutions provided observations for two points in time. The choice of independent variables was informed by retention theory and prior quantitative research into the retention question, as well as by the small body of literature addressing the efficacy of retention interventions. The new independent variable was the state dollars allocated per FTE student at each institution in 1991 and 1996. The multiple regression analyses confirmed that state dollars have a statistical impact on freshman to sophomore retention. In addition, the analyses suggested that summer bridge programming is the most effective of the three retention interventions considered, despite the small size of these programs relative to learning centers and freshman seminars. However, learning centers were the most numerous of the three programs and freshman seminars were the fastest growing. Descriptive statistics 10 suggested that institutions using these three programs have higher populations of students of color and also were more selective than those institutions not using the programs. The fixed effects regressions, however, returned very different results, with freshman seminars showing a strong, negative effect on retention rates and state appropriations no apparent effect. Data limitations may have resulted in these disparate results. Implications of this work include a stronger case for institutions to lobby the states and the suggestion to implement summer bridge programming prior to the other two interventions while additional research should employ a more robust data set and focus on disaggregating state money into its primary beneficiaries. 11
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School:The University of Arizona

School Location:USA - Arizona

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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