Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Workforce Education and Development

First Advisor

Waugh, C.


This mixed methods study, a concurrent triangulation design, explored Tinto's integration theory as it relates to nontraditional students. The study explored the relationship of academic and social integration, defined by classroom active learning strategies and sense of belonging, with persistence. The study also expanded upon the idea of socio-academic integrative moments which might occur when social and academic integration converge or overlap. Consistent with Tinto's model, factors including initial institutional commitment, initial goal commitment, and subsequent institutional commitment were also analyzed. Multiple regression analysis of data obtained from a 38-question survey (n=299) revealed one common predictor of persistence among the three research questions: initial commitment to the educational goal. Qualitative data, interpreted from a diverse group of 10 nontraditional students, confirmed the quantitative findings and revealed that, in relation to persistence, initial commitment to the educational goal seemed to transcend all other theoretical factors including institutional commitment, social integration, academic integration, and student entry characteristics such as race, gender, parents' educational attainment, first-generation status, and high school GPA. In addition, focus group findings indicated the presence of socio-academic integrative described as academically-focused social integration. Recommendations for further exploration into the integrational convergence or non-linearity of Tinto's model are included. Recommendations for practice and future research prompt additional exploration into nontraditional student persistence including suggestions to identify factors related to meaningful integration for nontraditional students and how those factors might influence persistence.




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