Date of Award

Winter 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Martha Smith Sharpe

Committee Member

Joe Buchanan

Committee Member

Petra Snowden

Committee Member

Jane Hager


This study identified noncognitive factors (via the use of discriminant analysis) that impact freshmen academic performance and retention in a community college setting. The study used a modified version of the Freshman Survey, that had been validated for use at an urban four-year institution, to determine the predictive validity of the instrument for use with first semester freshmen in a two-year college setting. Existing research suggests that cognitive factors can, at most, explain 10 to 20 percent of the variance in student retention and academic performance. The remainder (approximately 80 percent) of the variance in student academic performance and retention lies in the noncognitive domain.

The survey was successfully replicated at a small, rural community college located in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. The study findings, using probation and attrition scores, indicated that overall noncognitive factors discriminated between those students who were at risk of academic difficulty/academic success and were significant at the p < .001 level. The analysis provided similar significant findings for attrition and retention. The overall hit rate for number of cases correctly classified for academic difficulty was 37.14%. The overall hit rate for number of students correctly classified as drop-out was 56.8%. The findings also indicated that, in general, the higher a student's discriminant score the greater the probability of student academic difficulty or attrition. The results of this study can provide college counselors and instructors with additional student information that can be used to develop effective early intervention strategies. Research suggests that early intervention can have a positive impact on student academic performance and retention.


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