Measuring Factors That Contribute to Persistence in College and University Marching Bands

Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Geology


Curriculum, Instruction, and Foundational Studies

Major Advisor

Lawrence Rogien, Ph.D. and Scott Willison, Ph.D.


James Jirak, D.A.


Michael Samball, D.M.A.


Attrition rates in college and university marching bands are high, particularly so between the sophomore and junior year. While it is impractical to survey students who do not return, it is possible to study those who keep returning for the junior year and beyond. There have been many studies addressing general student retention, but none have specifically addressed persistence in collegiate marching bands.

The purpose of this study was to identify and measure factors leading to student persistence in college and university marching bands at the third year and beyond. A survey was designed, piloted and tested by the researcher for a mixed qualitative and quantitative model including demographics, a Likert scale attitudinal component, and reflective, open-ended prompts. Five hundred twenty eight students from eight selected universities volunteered and completed surveys for the demographic and open-ended prompts, and three hundred thirty one of these volunteers completed the Likert scale component. Logistic regression was performed on the demographic items, linear regression was performed on the Likert scale items, and the open-ended prompts were codified into categories for supporting data and triangulation.

Results from the demographic factors revealed that whether or not a student received a marching band scholarship showed significance (p=.000899) when assessing whether an upper level student would return to participate for another season in marching band. From the Likert scale component, it was revealed that intrinsic and extrinsic motivators (p=.000318), a sense of community (p=.006126) and non-burnout factors (p=.009465) all showed significance among persistent collegiate band members. While the motivators and non-burnout items continued to show significance when isolated by cluster, the community items did not. The codified, open-ended prompts revealed supporting evidence for these findings, but also suggested that student leadership and effective use of time within such organizations should be addressed. Further investigation is needed in the areas of scholarships and/or stipends, effective student leadership, time­ efficient teaching strategies, and strengthening the sense of community in college and university marching bands.

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