Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Janet Thomas


This study was an examination of the minority student retention rate in a year-long bridge program. The retention rate of these students is 25%. University administration was concerned about the retention rate and its impact on future enrollment. Using Jack Mezirow's transformative learning as a framework of understanding, the purpose of this study was to identify successes and challenges that minority students experienced in the bridge program and how those experiences affected future decisions on retention. A qualitative case-study design was implemented and 9 of the 140 bridge students were purposefully selected for individual interviews. Data analysis was conducted using open coding procedures with iterative recategorization to identify the themes. Key findings indicated that students found peer mentoring, flexibility in lab schedules, and speakers to be successes. Challenges that students faced included efforts associated with self-regulation and self-efficacy. Based on these findings, a policy recommendation was developed for the local site that suggested developing a mentoring program and continued use of Student Support Services beyond the first year. The results of this study will help university administration make informed and strategic decisions to revise and enhance the bridge program towards a focus upon the improvement of minority student retention. Further, this study promotes social change by serving as a model for other institutions in similar situations and continues the conversation in the literature regarding minority student retention rate.