A structural model for explaining retention and attrition in a community college



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This research tests Tinto's (1975) theoretical model of college persistence in a two-year community college setting. Beginning with selected background and situational variables the model examines the importance of different paths that students follow within the college environment in making their first-semester retention/attrition decisions. Many background variables directly affect students' initial institutional and personal goal commitments. Ultimately, all paths pass through at least one of three institutional- fit variables: academic satisfaction, academic performance, and social satisfaction. The first two variables are the main ingredients of Tinto's academic system, while the third encompasses his social system. Each path terminates with students' final institutional/goal commitment. A five equation structural model is developed and analyzed in the research. Constructs are treated as latent (unobserved) variables and several have multiple indicators. The relations among constructs and the relationships of constructs to manifest (measured) variables are specified in mathematical form -- simply a simultaneous system of highly restricted linear regression equations. The model explains the statistical properties of the measured variables in terms of the hypothesized latent variables. Parameter estimates and goodness-of-fit measures were determined by the use of the powerful LISREL computer program. The estimation results are based on data obtained from a medium sized single-campus community college located in a large metropolitan area of Texas. [...]



Community colleges, College attendance, Educational surveys