Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Student retention in higher education has become a national problem. At a small midwestern university, the retention rate has been declining, and the freshman to sophomore retention rate was 64% in 2013. The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to investigate ways to improve student retention. Tinto's theory of integration was used to explore the students' and administrators' perceptions of the factors that contribute to poor student retention to graduation. This study analyzed 519 student exit-forms from 2012-2015, 6 semistructured interviews from a purposeful sample of 10 administrators, and an analysis of university archival data. A thematic analysis of the data was completed. The following themes emerged from the analysis: financial problems, academic concerns, and social concerns. Based on the research findings, a 3-day professional development workshop was developed for university administrators, faculty, and staff to help increase their knowledge of retention, reasons why students are not staying, and strategies to academically and socially integrate students into the campus community. The workshop included strategies and activities designed to increase student retention. This study provided administrators, faculty, and staff with strategies and resources to help increase student retention, which may lead to improved graduation rates and less time to graduate.