Factors Contributing to Student Retention and Attrition at Sitting Bull College Between 2001-2004

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning


The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which selected factors (i.e., student funding, lack of adequate academic preparation, personal commitment, family support, child care issues, transportation problems, and job conflict, and other factors that students identify) contribute to the student retention and attrition at a single mid-western Tribal College.

A total of 782 survey questionnaires were mailed to former (including stop-outs, dropouts, and graduates) and current Sitting Bull College (SBC) students. These surveyed students were chosen from the SBC student enrollment data beginning spring semester 2001 through spring semester 2004.

The eighteen-item retention survey was developed by the researcher for this study. The survey included questions regarding demographics, academic characteristics, and ratings for retention and attrition factors. The data consisted of the student responses on the survey items. Both quantitative and qualitative data were obtained.

The following conclusions emerged from this study: 1) more females than males are graduating in proportion to the total student population, 2) less than 50% of the students enrolled from 2001-2004 were first generation students, 3) less than 50% of those same students are single parents, 4) students who are high school graduates are more likely to graduate from college than students with a General Equivalency Diploma, 5) high school grade point averages does not seem to have an effect on attrition for stop-out and dropout students and it seems to have a positive impact on student retention, 6) academic ability, at the college level affects attrition and retention, 7) being a full-time or part-time student does not seem to affect attrition or retention, 8) the identified retention factors were personal commitment, adequate family support, adequate job supervisor support, and supportive faculty members, these retention factors are consistent with research, but the degree of importance is unique to this institution, 9) the identified attrition factors were child care issues, conflict with job, lack of transportation, lack of funding, family issues, health issues, lack of motivation and interest, and lack of faculty and advisor support. These results are coherent with research, but the degree of importance is unique to SBC students.

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