Date of Award

Winter 2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Studies

Committee Director

Christopher Lovell

Committee Member

Jeanie Kline

Committee Member

J. Worth Pickering


This study adapted and validated, for use with transfer students, an existing freshman survey instrument designed to identify patterns of noncognitive factors related to academic performance and persistence. This study also explored the transfer experience by combining a qualitative interview approach with that of a survey, thus developing a method to ascertain those transfer students who were at risk of attrition.

To identify noncognitive predictors, the researcher examined the percentage of transfer students in academic difficulty for every response to each of the 152 items on a Transfer Student Survey (TSS). Respondents were separated into 4 groups based on their restrictive levels and locations: main campus freshmen transfer students, main campus sophomore transfer students, main campus upper division (junior and senior) transfer students, and distance learning transfer students. A scoring method was developed to produce probation scores (noncognitive predictor). A cognitive predictor (transfer GPA) and demographic predictors (gender, race, and age) were used in the analyses. In every instance, the noncognitive predictor loaded first in a stepwise logistical regression. Second loading predictors varied, however, depending upon student level and location.

Each student group differed with regard to barriers to persistence as shown through the differing questions included in the probation scores. Also of interest was the qualitative data gathered through open ended questions on the TSS and the indepth interviews with selected transfer students, providing an even greater insight into what makes transfer students successful or what causes them difficulty. Information derived through these qualitative methods underscored several noncognitive areas identified through the survey: participation in campus and community based activities, time management, stress, and a supportive university environment.

A wealth of possibilities for research on transfer student success and persistence exists based on this research, and much still remains unknown about this ever-growing population. The results of this study show promise in giving four-year institutions the ability, for the first time, to identify at risk transfer students, pinpointing areas of need for appropriate interventions.