Date of Award


Degree Name

Educational Leadership


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Dennis M. Anderson

Second Advisor

Stephen O’Keefe

Third Advisor

Michael Galbraith


Attrition of college freshmen due, in part, to the lack of academic preparedness upon enrolling in college is an issue facing college and university administrators. Chief academic officers cannot ignore the fact that 30% of all students enrolling in postsecondary institutions require some form of “developmental” coursework. Institutional leaders need to be aware of predictors that determine the student’s need for enrollment in developmental courses and factors that influence student persistence. Administrators must focus on both the characteristics and experiences of students prior to college, as well as their experiences inside the classroom, and how these variables interrelate. To understand the variables that predict enrollment in developmental courses and the role developmental courses play in persistence, alumni (n=1725) from six select postsecondary institutions were surveyed. This was a survey research design involving a self report questionnaire, the College Student Persistence Questionnaire (CSPQ). There were 414 (24%) completed questionnaires returned. The grouping variable (dependent variable) was enrollment in one or more developmental courses. The predictor variables (independent variables) were gender, race, year of enrollment, high school grade point average (GPA), age at enrollment, withdrawal from an institution, year of graduation, transfer to an institution, attainment of a bachelor’s degree, transfer from an institution and age at graduation. Significant differences were found at the p < .01 level with regard to high school GPA as a predictor of placement in developmental education courses. This study provides sufficient support for identifying the academic needs of first year students. Since student success is determined by student persistence, it is crucial that postsecondary institutions allocate funding for programs that support academic success for students. Developmental education is an institutional responsibility and it must be an institutional priority.