Understanding the Relationship Between Student Demographic, Attribute, Academic, and Social Integration Factors with Retention

Landon Keefer Adams, Lindenwood University


Student retention has been studied more than any higher education subject (Vlanden & Barlow, 2014). Attempts to better understand the retention process through predictive modeling have become more common (Bingham & Solverson, 2016). However, modeling efforts have failed to properly account for elements of social integration and sense of belonging, both of which serve as key tenants in Astin’s (1975, 1999) theory of student involvement and Tinto’s (1982, 1993) model of college dropout and theory of student departure (Bingham & Solverson, 2016). In this study, social integration was evaluated in isolation using z-tests. Several forms of social integration were found to have a statistically significant difference in the proportion of retained participants versus non-participants including campus fitness programs, fraternity or sorority programs, recreation facilities, and student activities. Participants in intramural sports and oncampus living were not found to have statistically significant results. Additionally, binary logistic regression was used to analyze how social integration variables interplayed with demographic, student attribute, and academic performance inputs. The model produced through the analysis successfully met previous goodness-of-fit standards established in prior research (Bingham & Solverson, 2016; Jia & Maloney, 2014). Findings of this research are especially relevant to higher education administrators. A key method to the promotion of persistence and student retention is the ability to predict attrition (Harvey & Luckman, 2014). By including social integration data, higher education leaders could seize upon the opportunity to more accurately identify those students who are less likely to persist than their peers (Bingham & Solverson, 2016).