Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Thomas D. Hadley


The retention of nursing students remains a challenge in higher education, and the need for nurses in the United States is projected to increase. The purpose of this study was to investigate nursing student persistence in an associate degree program by examining differences in the presence of key social, environmental, and academic factors across 2 types of students: completers and non-completers of the 1st course in a registered nursing program. The study framework was based on Tinto's Student Integration Model and the Nursing Undergraduate Retention and Success Model, which identify key social, environmental, and academic factors as critical to student success. The Student Perception Appraisal survey, which consists of 27 items arranged into 5 subscales 'personal academic, environmental, institutional interaction, college facilities, and friend support' was administered to students enrolled in the 1st semester of a registered nursing program who were later assigned to a group based on course completion (n = 90 completers; n = 22 non-completers). An independent-samples t test revealed no statistically significant differences between the groups on the instrument subscale scores. Recommendations include further study with larger and more equivalent group sizes. Implications for social change include providing initial research findings and recommendations to the study site that may ultimately increase the number of nursing graduates to meet the ever-increasing demand for healthcare professionals.