Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational Policy Studies and Eval

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly Bradley


Not all college “stayers” and “leavers” stay or leave for the same reason or with the same experience. However, traditional measures and studies of academic success have limited their scope to either performance or persistence as individual variables. This study explored whether a more nuanced definition of success as a composite of both performance and persistence (GPA and retention) produced different results than when using the variables separately. The influence of academic self-efficacy on student success served as the context for this exploration. The study used an existing incoming student survey dataset from a small private liberal arts college. Subjects were grouped into one of five categories based on academic performance and persistence after two terms: Good Performing Leavers, Good Performing Stayers, Bad Performing Leavers, Bad Performing Stayers, and Early Leavers. The relationship between academic self-efficacy and student success, using the individual and composite outcome variables, were explored. The results of the study were inconclusive with the composite measure resulting in only a slight increase in the number of significant relationship with self-efficacy items. Post hoc exploratory analysis that controlled for high school GPA and removed subjects who did not appear to have engaged in the survey resulted in some support for the original hypothesis. These and other suggestions are made for future investigations of this question.