Date of Award

Summer 8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Linda Bol

Committee Member

Xihe Zhu


Student retention and persistence are key to student success. Therefore, it is of great concern to community college leaders that their students are retained. In addition to having the best interest of students in mind, community college leaders feel the pressure of performance-based funding to produce increased retention and graduation rates. Over the past several years, retention rates at community colleges in the United States have hovered below 50% (National Student Clearinghouse, 2019). The researcher of the current study implemented a very low-cost initiative with the intent of increasing retention at a community college.

The purpose of this study was to explore the effect of a voluntary walking program that combined moderate physical activity, student interaction with peers, and student interaction with college faculty, staff, and administrators, on student retention at a community college. For the current study, a sample of 69 students at a suburban community college voluntarily joined a walking program and logged the number of minutes they walked and the number of people they spoke to each day. The data were collected via Google sheets, individually shared only with the researcher. Using a Chi-Squared Test of Independence, the study sample was compared to a matched sample of students not in the walking program. It was found that there was a significant difference in these groups relative to retention. A Fisher’s Exact Test was used to consider (a) the difference between participants who walked at least 150 minutes per week, as recommended by the American Heart Association (2018) and those who did not relative to retention and (b) the difference between participants who spoke to others while walking and those who did not relative to retention. These tests showed no significant differences. Community college leaders can use these findings to implement a low-cost approach to address the issue of student retention.