Waitsman: Dispositional Resilience and Person-Environment Fit as Predictors of College Student Retention

Friday January 27, 2012, 1pm in Brackett 414

Dispositional Resilience and Person-Environment Fit as Predictors of
College Student Retention

As more students drop out of college and the cost of leaving school
with a degree rises, it becomes increasingly critical to help match
students to a school that will educate them and facilitate graduation.
While the college student retention literature has formulated a number
of ideas and theories about how to do this, the current study uses an
idea from the psychological literature, person-environment fit, in
order to understand the role of an individual’s fit with their college
environment on student success. The current study examines individual
differences in resilience as well as those in preferences for the
presence or absence of environmental variables. Comparing an
individual’s desire for (the absence of) particular features of the
college environment to whether or not they are at a school with (or
without) those attributes creates a measure of fit. The Job
Demands-Resources (JD-R) model is used to explore the role that
dispositional resilience and job demands such as a lack of fit between
an individual’s preferences and objective environmental features play
in affecting student retention and adjustment.

The current study hypothesizes that resilience will be most
effectively measured by a single factor resilience model comprised of
hardiness, core self-evaluations (CSE), and positive psychological
capital (PsyCap). Further, it is hypothesized that resilience and good
fit will individually and interactively predict higher commitment,
better adjustment, and fewer intentions to leave a school. It is also
hypothesized that fit will be of particular importance in predicting
outcomes for first year students. All of these hypotheses will be
tested utilizing an archival data set collected from three diverse
colleges and universities. The implications of this study for both
researchers and practitioners will be discussed.

Dissertation Committee: Drs. Robert Sinclair (chair), Cindy Pury,
Patrick Raymark, and Patrick Rosopa

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