Date of Award

Spring 1996

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Todd DeMitchell


This study sought to expand existing research focusing on factors contributing to student retention in higher education institutions. The study examined the impact of students' levels of satisfaction with the faculty advising process on student retention from first year to sophomore year. The research sought to answer the question, "Are students' decisions to remain at a college following their freshman year influenced by their satisfactory or unsatisfactory experiences with their academic advisors?".

The sample (N = 269), drawn from three higher education institutions in New Hampshire, included fulltime, traditional-aged sophomore (non-transfer) students seeking a bachelor degree with 30-60 credits completed at the institution during the previous year. The three participating institutions were small, co-educational, private liberal arts colleges sharing key institutional characteristics such as similar student populations and financial resources.

The survey instrument included 27 Likert scale items which addressed overall satisfaction with the faculty advisor, satisfaction with the interpersonal relationship with the faculty advisor, satisfaction with the advisor's skills and competence, and the impact of these levels of satisfaction on students' decisions to return to that college for the sophomore year.

Means and standard deviations were calculated for each survey item and two constructed subscales focusing on the interpersonal relationship and the advisor's skills and competence. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the impact of student satisfaction with the faculty advisor on students' decisions to return to their institutions.

Mean scores on survey items, ranging from 3.29-4.38 on a 1-5 scale, revealed above average student satisfaction with the overall advising process. Mean scores on the two subscales of interpersonal relationships (4.0) and advisor skills and competence (3.95) also revealed above average student satisfaction. Correlational data revealed a moderate impact of overall satisfaction with advisors, satisfaction with the interpersonal relationship, and satisfaction with the advisors' skills on decisions to remain at the institution from freshman to sophomore years.

Further research (potentially including large, public institutions) is needed to assess which college environment factors, in conjunction with academic advising, contribute to student satisfaction levels, and to what degree these factors ultimately impact student retention.