Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Scott Mertes


Compared to their peers, low-income students are 90% less likely to graduate within 6 years and are more likely to drop out. At the local site, this problem is also evident in that the retention rate for the Fall 2014-15 cohort was 78.3%, but just 60.2% for those defined as low-income students. The purpose of this study was to gain a better understanding of low-income 1st year college students' perceived confidence in their use of technology and how it influenced their decision to stay in college. Understanding the role technology plays in the decision to stay in college will shed light on ways to offer support to increase retention of these students. The conceptual framework that guided the study was Bruno's confidence based learning methodology. This framework suggests there is a connection between knowledge and confidence. A qualitative descriptive design was used collecting data through a series of 10 open-ended interviews with low-income 1st year college students. The central research question explored how low-income 1st year college students describe their confidence in the use of technology as a factor in their retention. Data analysis consisted of manual coding to identify themes from the interview data. The findings suggested low-income 1st year students do not have confidence in their ability to use technology and remain in college. A policy recommendation to reinstate the information literacy policy for low-income 1st year students could affect social change as additional resources help to raise low-income 1st year college students' confidence using technology and supports them to persist in college.