Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Lindsey Turner, Ph.D.


Keith Thiede, Ph.D.


Carl Siebert, Ph.D.


Hannah Calvert, Ph.D.


Universities have been trying to increase graduation rates for decades. Using Astin’s student involvement theory (1984), which posits the more a student is involved at the university, the more likely the students will be retained and graduate from the university. Much of the research over the past 20 years has been limited to study the impact of one form of involvement has on retention and graduation, while this study combines different forms of involvement and how they impact retention and graduation rates. This study occurs with a first-year cohort entering fall 2012 at a public four-year university in the Pacific Northwest. While considering students’ entering characteristics, this study uses multiple analyses to explore how first semester student involvement (Greek life, Recreation center use, working on campus, etc.) affects first semester GPA, first-semester and first-year retention, and graduation rates. Overall findings show first semester GPA is still the best predictor of six-year graduation rates. The study also showed certain types of student involvement impacts first semester GPA. This impact led to the creation of a weighted Student Involvement Index in an attempt to predict six-year graduation rates. This new Student Involvement Index accurately predicted over 61% of the student outcomes based on student involvement during the first semester at the university.