Academic integration, social integration, goal and institutional commitment, and spiritual integration as predictors of persistence at a Christian institution of higher education
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Tinto's Model of Student Departure has been tested in various types of postsecondary institutions. Researcher's have not, however, examined Tinto's model in Christian institutions of higher education. The need for research on student attrition from Christian colleges and universities is motivated by the deficiency in the literature and the following two questions: Is Tinto's model valid at Christian institutions of higher education? Would any additional variables unique to these institutions add to the predictive validity of Tinto's model for use at these particular schools? The purpose of this study is to test three core constructs of Tinto's (1993) Model of Student Departure in a Christian institution of higher education. In addition, this study will add a spiritual integration variable to Tinto's model that could potentially help to better explain retention and attrition at Christian institutions of higher education. The sample for this study consists of the students who completed the Student Information Form, the Institutional Integration Scales, and the spiritual integration measure. These students were tracked for one year, from their initial enrollment in the fall semester of 2000 through the fall semester of 2001. Students were then placed into one of two groups. One group consists of persisters, students who have reenrolled for the fall semester of 2001. The second group is termed withdrawers, students who did not return for the fall 2001 semester. Survey research and quantitative data analysis was utilized to gather information and answer four research questions. The surveys used in this study include the Student Information Form (2000), the Institutional Integration Scales (Pascarella and Terenzini 1980) and a spiritual integration measure (Schreiner 2000). The integration surveys were distributed in the Spring 2001 semester during the twelfth week of classes to first-year students enrolled in a required Bible course. This study found that two variables contained in the Academic Integration construct (student's cumulative G.P.A. and the Academic and Intellectual Development Scale), two variables contained in the Social Integration construct (Peer-Group Interactions Scale and the student's average number of hours per week spent in extra-curricular activities), as well as the constructs of Goal and Intuitional Commitment and Spiritual Integration were significant predictors.
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