Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

William Muth

Second Advisor

Susanne Croasdaile

Third Advisor

Mary Hermann

Fourth Advisor

Seth Sykes


This study examined some differences between continuing and non-continuing special admission students in areas of academic advising in ways that are more systematic and thorough than past research. The premise of the study is that having a clearer understanding of how academic advising affects retention might provide colleges and universities with information to optimize the collegiate experience for special admission students. Therefore, research on the effect academic advising has on special admission student retention might offer insight into how the interactions between student and advisor affect retention issues.

A non-experimental descriptive research design was employed to investigate the differences between the independent variables (advising style, frequency of contact, gender match, and race or ethnicity match) and the dependent variable, student retention. There were three sources of data used in this study. First, data were collected from students through the use of the Academic Advising Inventory (AAI) and External Factors of Retention Survey (EFRS) using online survey software. Second, data were collected from existing databases provided by an urban higher education institution. Finally, brief phone surveys were conducted with non-continuing students.

Due to low survey response, no statistical analysis for significance was reported in this study. However, patterns observed from the AAI/EFRS and the phone surveys provided the following results. First, continuing special admission students had more advisor contact than non-continuing students. Second, despite continuing students’ higher average scores on the Developmental-Prescriptive Advising Scale (measure for advising style) of the AAI, the higher perceived advising style scores did not suggest a higher frequency of student-advisor contact in the first semester. Third, perceived advising style may have influenced frequency of student-advisor contact among non-continuing students. Fourth, continuing students had a decrease in frequency of student-advisor contact in consecutive semesters. Fifth, the perception of students that their race or ethnicity are respected by their advisor may matter more than a race or ethnicity match. Sixth, gender match was not related to frequency of student-advisor contact for continuing students. Seventh, clearly stating the objectives of a research study and how participation serves the objectives may aid in the recruitment of difficult to reach populations. Eighth, institutional efforts to reach out to these students could influence the students’ decision to continue enrollment.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission