Nontraditional students are increasingly more common in higher education but have lower persistence rates than their traditional peers. While educational researchers have developed several models to predict college persistence using both cognitive (e.g. entrance exam scores) and noncognitive (e.g. academic motivation) factors, most of these models were created for traditional students. The psychosociocultural (PSC) model was created to better predict academic outcomes specifically for underrepresented students using psychological, social, and cultural factors. However, the PSC model has never been used to study nontraditional students. To address these limitations, this study used the PSC model to predict the persistence of traditional and nontraditional undergraduate students at a large public research university. Students were considered nontraditional if they were 25 or older; worked an average of 30 or more hours a week; had children; or were enrolled part-time for the majority of the spring, summer, and fall semesters in 2019. It was hypothesized that (1) nontraditional students will have lower rates of persistence than traditional students; (2a) psychological, social, and cultural dimensions will predict persistence among all students; (2b) nontraditional students will have stronger relationships between the three PSC dimensions and persistence than traditional students; (3a) loneliness, self-efficacy, support from family and friends, comfort on campus, and sense of belonging will predict persistence among all students; and (3b) nontraditional students will have stronger relationships between the six variables of the PSC model and persistence than traditional students. Hypothesis 1 was tested using a chi square test of independence, and hypotheses 2 and 3 were tested using a binominal logistic regression. Preliminary analyses tested the data to determine the internal reliability for each instrument used as well as to determine whether the assumptions of the statistical tests were met. Data analysis revealed that none of the hypothesis were supported. No difference in persistence was found between nontraditional and traditional students. Neither the three PSC dimensions nor the six PSC variables were significant predictors of persistence for the undergraduate participants. Finally, student status did not moderate the relationship between the three PSC dimensions and persistence or the six PSC variables and persistence. While this study did not find that the PSC Model was useful for predicting differences in persistence between nontraditional and traditional students, the lack of significant findings was likely due to a high persistence rate among all students. While the hypotheses could not be supported, the high internal reliability of the instruments suggested that the six instruments used in this study were particularly useful for understanding nontraditional students' experiences on campus. Additionally, this study measured nontraditional and traditional students' perceived experiences on campus, which may inform outreach and services provided by student service staff. Future studies on nontraditional students might consider using these instruments to gauge students' experiences on campus at other institutions. In gathering information about students' perceptions and experiences, institutions will be better able to make informed decisions about how their policies and practice meet the needs of various student groups on campus.


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Graduation Date





Letzring, Timothy


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Community Innovation and Education


School of Teacher Education

Degree Program

Education; Higher Education Track







Release Date

August 2020

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)