Term of Award

Spring 2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Brenda Marina

Committee Member 1

Christopher Caplinger

Committee Member 2

Thomas Koballa

Committee Member 3

Tracyann Henry

Abstract

The National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) is an assessment tool administered to university undergraduate students and used to determine the degree to which they are engaged with their academic environment. The NSSE asks students to assess themselves in five categories: level of academic challenge, active and collaborative learning, student-faculty interaction, enriching educational experiences and supportive campus environment. This correlational study, also consisting of Chi-squared tests and t tests, examined the relationship between data from the NSSE by Georgia Southern University (GSU) students (independent variables) and whether first year undergraduate students persisted (re-enrolled) to their second year (dependent variable). Specifically, NSSE data from the fall of 2004 to fall of 2005 and from fall of 2007 to fall of 2008 (freshman to sophomore year) were analyzed. Additional independent variables such as race, high school GPA and freshman GPA were also correlated to scores on the five benchmarks. Re-enrollment is an indicator of a student’s continued pursuit of learning. This study was conducted using Chi-squared tests, t tests and probit regressions. The results indicate that the only significant variables at the .05 level contributing to persistence are Supportive Campus Environment (B = 0.020, p < .001) and Cumulative GPA score (p < .001). The results of this study imply that student persistence can potentially be enhanced by attending to the campus environment. The study’s findings may provide valuable insights that are needed in order to understand student engagement and may be useful in planning for initiatives to increase persistence.

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