This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

The Effect of Formal Mentoring Programs on Persistence of College Sophomores




Palmer, Kerry

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


Retention has been an issue in higher education for decades (Freedman, 1956; Noel et al., 1986; Tinto, 1987, 2012). Many attempts have been made to address this issue, with most research focusing on the freshman year. Recently, increasing focus has centered on sophomore students and what may cause them to leave college early. However, even after identification of the sophomore slump as an issue as far back as 1956 (Freedman, 1956), universities have only sporadically addressed retention at this critical juncture. Mentoring has been implemented in many areas in an effort to increase retention. While mentoring programs are conducted to some extent in the university setting, the impact of mentoring has not been studied to the same extent as freshman retention initiatives. Consequently, little is known about the impact of robust advising and mentoring programs on academic performance and persistence among sophomores. Even though university administrators acknowledge the issues surrounding low academic performance and high dropout among sophomores, most resources geared toward retention are aimed at freshmen (Freedman, 1956; Noel et al., 1986; Tinto, 1987, 2012). Using a quasi-experimental research design with matched control groups, this study attempted to determine whether a relationship exists between formal mentoring programs and retention at a mid-sized, liberal arts university in the southeastern United States. Research questions were analyzed using multiple regression and binary logistic regression, and indicated that, at least with the sample studied herein, there was not a statistically significant relationship between placement in a formal mentoring program and improvement of GPA or persistence to the junior year of study. Even so, examination of raw data indicated that students in the treatment group entered the junior year at a higher rate, and with a higher percentage of GPA increase, than those in the control group.