Effect of academic support services on retention of college freshmen: A study of persisters and nonpersisters

Dawn Eudoxia Klimovich, Fordham University


Tinto' s (1975) theoretical conceptualization of student persistence describes the quality of the student's interaction with academic and social systems. He raises the issue of whether the integration of academic and social variables can influence persistence behavior positively. According to Tinto (1990), higher educational institutions, as educational communities, should utilize effective retention programs to assist students into the social and intellectual aspects of the university. The major purpose of this study was to address the effectiveness of academic support interventions upon retention rates in college freshmen. Selected variables of remediation, freshman orientation seminar (ORSEM), high school average and choice of major were used to measure persistence behavior after the completion of the first four semesters. These variables also determined the classification of subjects as either successful persisters, unsuccessful persisters, successful nonpersisters or unsuccessful nonpersisters. The cohort in this study consisted of 904 Hunter College first semester freshmen. Cumulative grade point average, the dependent variable, was used to determine whether students were academically successful or unsuccessful. Students who completed four semesters and enrolled continuously were persisters while those with less than four semesters were nonpersisters. Data for the variables were gathered from official college transcripts. The strength of the relationships of the independent variables was measured by the chi-square test. Stepwise multiple regression analysis was performed to examine the relationship between the dependent variable and independent variables. Discriminant function analyses were used to determine the classification of subjects into the four persister and nonpersister subgroups. Remediation and ORSEM, as retention initiatives, were found to be effective predictors for both persistence behavior and academic success. Programs recognizing pre-college backgrounds foster better retention standards by providing a means of assimilating high school graduates into college settings and focusing on their academic potential. High school average and choice of major were not found to have significant effects on student persistence or academic success. The results of this study support Tinto's model with regard to a need for both academic and social integration of students into higher education. The commitment of students and university to each other has been found to be a vital force in improving retention.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational psychology|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Klimovich, Dawn Eudoxia, "Effect of academic support services on retention of college freshmen: A study of persisters and nonpersisters" (1994). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9509750.