Understanding the Link Between Noncognitive Attributes and College Retention

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College retention, College students, Grit, Noncognitive attributes, Self-discipline, Self-efficacy, Time management


The attention to students’ noncognitive attributes has recently flourished within academic research and public discourse. This paper adds to the literature by examining the interrelationships among several key noncognitive attributes as well as exploring direct and indirect relationships between noncognitive attributes and second-year retention. Within a multi-institutional sample of 10,622 students, academic self-efficacy, academic grit, self-discipline, and time management all load onto a single noncognitive factor with strong inter-item correlations and internal reliability. Moreover, structural equation modeling analyses indicate a sizable and positive indirect effect of noncognitive attributes on college retention, which is mediated by social adjustment, institutional commitment, and college grade point average.

Recommended Citation

Bowman, Nicholas A., Annette Miller, Sherry Woosley, Nicholas P. Maxwell, and Mary Jo Kolze. "Understanding the link between noncognitive attributes and college retention." Research in Higher Education 60, no. 2 (2019): 135-152.

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