Date of Award

Winter 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Higher Education

Committee Director

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

David Hager


Retention is an important measure for institutions of higher education thereby making improved academic success and increased retention of paramount concern to university administrators. This concern has resulted in a body of literature addressing retention and the development of retention programs. Few of these programs however, have been empirically evaluated for their effectiveness and repeatedly, the literature has cited the need for evaluation of retention and probation programs across demographic, cognitive and non-cognitive characteristics. The purpose of this research was to determine whether the LADDERS (Let Academic Difficulty Disappear to Energize and Retain Students) program developed by Old Dominion University is an effective model that can be used to improve academic achievement and retention rates of probationary undergraduate students. ANOVA, Factorial ANOVA and Logistic Regression were used to compare the academic achievement and retention of probationary students who attended the LADDERS program across their demographic characteristics and cognitive and non-cognitive attributes. The results of this study showed that participation in the LADDERS program leads to higher GPA and greater retention of students. Findings further suggest that participation in LADDERS may be especially effective for improving retention rates among minority male students.