Motivational and Self-Regulatory Predictors of Academic Retention and Graduation in First-Year College Students




Deutsch, William

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High rates of college dropout are an ever-growing concern for educators and students alike. The most widely used predictors of college achievement, which heavily influence retention, are prior ability measurements, such as students’ high school grade point average and SAT scores. It is possible that other, less commonly examined, variables exist that better explain retention. Survey data were collected from 589 first-year college students to examine predictors of 4-, 5- and 7- year college retention and graduation rates. Variables included the use of learning strategies, aspects of motivation (task value, self efficacy, test anxiety), adherence to goal orientation (mastery, performance approach, performance avoidance), prior achievement measures (high school GPA and SAT scores), first-semester college GPA, and demographic variables (gender, race, on-campus living situation). Students completed the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ; Pintrich et al., 1993) and the Patterns of Adaptive Learning Scales (PALS; Midgley et al., 1998). Results of multiple hierarchical logistic regressions indicated that the strongest predictors of college graduation include race, high school GPA, having a mastery goal orientation, and first-semester college GPA. Implications for high stakes college admissions decisions are discussed.



Retention, College students, Motivation, Self-regulation