Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Kim VanDerLinden


This quantitative study examined the degree to which traditional (high school grade point average (GPA) and standardized tests), noncognitive, and demographic variables predict first-semester college GPA and first-to-second semester retention among a sample of 386 first-year students at a small technology college. The aim of this research was to better understand the ways noncognitive variables may predict and explain college success for a general population of first-year students as well as a population of low-achieving students. Linear and logistical regression analysis were used to determine the degree to which each of the prescribed traditional, demographic (gender, race, parent education, and family income), and noncognitive (academic engagement, educational commitment, academic self-efficacy, resiliency, social comfort, and campus engagement) predictors could predict first-semester college GPA and first-to-second semester retention. The findings of the study suggest that high school GPA is the strongest predictor of first-semester GPA and first-to-second semester retention. In addition, the study revealed that standardized tests are not predictive of first-to-second semester retention. None of the noncognitive predictors met statistical significance; however, campus engagement, a measure of the student’s willingness to become involved in campus activities, did approach significance for first-to-second semester retention. Recommendations for the use of standardized tests and campus engagement measures in admissions practices are provided.

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