Date of Award

Winter 1-1-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy In Urban Education Degree: Leadership And Lifelong Learning


Education and Human Services

First Advisor

Messemer, Jonathan E.

Second Advisor

Anne Galletta, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Mittie Davis Jones, Ph.D


Persistence to graduation for adult undergraduate students has been challenging for decades. Many adult learners enroll into the university with numerous sociodemographic characteristics that can hinder their success. Adult students must manage multiple roles and balance their personal, professional and student roles in order to succeed. Twenty-eight percent of first year undergraduate students will not return to college in their second year (American College Testing, 2012). The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between self-efficacy, academic success and persistence for undergraduate students through the lens of Donaldson & Graham’s (1999) model of college outcomes for adult learners. The sample for this study represented 310 undergraduate students from two large urban public universities in the United States. This study measured the students’ level of self-efficacy and academic persistence in college. The following surveys were employed for this study: the New General Self-Efficacy Scale (Chen, Gully and Eden, 2001) and the Social Integration and Persistence Scale (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980). Because this survey is nearly 40-years old, the researcher employed an exploratory factor analysis on the data which now suggest that there are six factors that measure academic persistence for adult learners in urban universities. These six factors include: (1) intellectual vi development, (2) peer group interaction, (3) non-classroom faculty interaction, (4) negative faculty interaction, (5) academic aspirations, and (6) university interconnectedness. This study suggests a significant positive correlation between five of the six factors, with exception to the factor: interconnectedness to the university. The findings suggest that there is a significant correlation between self-efficacy and undergraduate credit hours earned, but no significant correlation between self-efficacy and cumulative grade point average. The findings suggest that there is a positive correlation for student persistence factors: intellectual development and student academic aspirations and between the credit hours earned. There is a significant positive correlation for student persistence factors: intellectual development, student academic aspirations, and university interconnectedness and between the GPA. The findings suggest a negative correlation exists between the students’ persistence factor: negative faculty interactions and GPA. This study found a significant influence between numerous student sociodemographic characteristics and factors measuring student persistence