The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2002 OPEN FORUM Abstracts

PROMOTING PERSISTENCE: ALLIED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL STUDENTS AT RISK

Kathy Jones-Boggs Rye, Ed.D., R.R.T. University Arkansas Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR.

Background: The attrition rate of students in allied health professions is of concern to educators, administrators, and society. Non-persistence represents a waste of financial resources, both personal and institutional, and may have negative psychological impacts on students as well as their families, friends, and colleagues. Yet, there is very little research identifying what influences the persistence of undergraduate allied health students based on the theoretical models of undergraduate persistence. Understanding why some allied health students fail to persist may form the basis for effective retention efforts. Moreover, the broader issue of how financial aid and net cost affect allied health majors has not been adequately explored.

Methods: To address this need, a logistic model of allied health professions student within-year persistence based on the previous research of St. John and associates1,2 was advanced and examined in this study using the 1996 National Postsecondary Aid Study (NPSAS:96). The statistical method selected for analysis in this study was logistic regression.

Results: The results indicated that persistence decisions of two-year and four-year allied health professional students were significantly affected by five background, one high school achievement, six college experience, and three price variables. However, results indicated that two-year and four-year students were not affected in the same way by these variables.

Discussion: The primary focus of the study was to determine the factors that influence within-year persistence/ withdrawal decisions of two-year and four-year allied health students. In an effort to isolate factors that contributed to changes in persistence/withdrawal behavior, the effects of student background, aspirations, achievement, college experience, and price were examined.

Conclusions: Findings of this study suggest several important observations related to within-year persistence of allied health professional students. Findings indicated a positive influence on within-year persistence for variables related to: being financially dependent, enrolled as sophomore, a full-time student, and having a father with a college degree. Variables associated with lowering the persistence rate were: being under the age of 22, having a mother with a college degree, having low college entrance exam scores, having a low GPA or no reported GPA, working full-time, and attending a for-profit institution. Allied health professional students were sensitive to price variables associated with loan and grant amounts, as well as tuition and fees.

1Andrieu SC & St. John EP. The influences of prices on graduate student persistence. Research in Higher Education. 1993; 34(2):399-425.

2St. John EP & Starkey J. The influence of costs on persistence by traditional college-age students in community colleges. Journal of Community College Research and Practice. 1994; 18(2):201-213.

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