Date of Award

Summer 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Jean Lytle


The United States is bracing for the largest shortage of registered nurses that the United States health care system has ever experienced. As the population of "baby boomers," those born between 1946 and 1960, turns 65 beginning in 2011, the nation will be faced with providing health care services to the largest group of elderly Americans in history. Unlike previous generations, this group has had the advantage of advanced medical care that will allow them to live well into their 80s and even 90s.

The purpose of this study was to conduct a preliminary investigation to identify predictor variables that are related to persistence of students in a baccalaureate nursing program at a mid-sized, private, Midwestern, Catholic, liberal arts university. The populations in this retrospective study are comprised of native students who began their college experience as freshmen nursing majors at a mid-sized, private, Midwestern, Catholic, liberal arts university, and community college transfer students who transferred into the university as sophomores or juniors, between the years of 2001 and 2007. Many colleges of nursing in the United States have experienced high rates of student attrition, mostly in the first year. Students who leave these programs were selected through rigorous screening processes over other qualified candidates who were not able to enroll due to the limitations of classroom and lab space, a shortage of nursing faculty, and limited hospital practicum opportunities. This quantitative, causal-comparative study will identify any statistically significant differences that exist between each group of students when comparing persistence to graduation, grade point averages (GPA), math, and reading abilities as identified by pretesting of these students prior to admission into a private, liberal arts university nursing program. Many studies have been completed on college retention of transfer students, but very little empirical research has been done regarding the persistence rates of students in specific academic disciplines, such as nursing, at private, liberal arts universities. There is a need for research involving the comparison of native and community college transfer students' persistence to graduation in a liberal arts university. The proposed study fills that gap.


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