Date of Conferral







Andrew E. Thomas


Although minority students are enrolling in community colleges at increasing rates, these students also leave at higher rates than their non-minority counterparts. The purpose of this quantitative study was to understand the relationship between selected antecedents of educational engagement and student persistence and to examine how persistence varied for first-year Hispanic and non-Hispanic students in Idaho community colleges. Drawing from Kahu's holistic approach, which conceptualizes students' engagement as arising from an interrelationship between institutional and student characteristics, this study surveyed 132 first-semester Idaho community college students. A MANOVA was used to identify the relationship between variables representing aspects of student engagement and persistence. There were significant differences in variables within 2 antecedents, structural-student (maternal education level) and psychosocial-relationship (quality of peer relationships). Further, the study examined the relationship differences between Hispanic and non-Hispanic students, suggesting significant differences within the antecedent of structural-student. Higher levels of paternal education and family income were significant in Hispanic student persistence. This research is expected to contribute to empirical knowledge of student persistence and educational engagement; it benefits the academic community as a whole in the development of best practices and intervention programs. Enhanced persistence has positive social and economic benefits for students who complete their education; for the institution, it yields diversity; and for society as a whole, it yields educated citizens from diverse backgrounds.