First Advisor

Merchant, William

First Committee Member

Tsai, Chai-Lin

Second Committee Member

Larkins, Randy

Third Committee Member

Paek, Sue Hyeon

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Document Type


Date Created



College of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Applied Statistics and Research Methods, ASRM Student Work


Institutional researchers use skills from their diverse backgrounds to collect, analyze and report data about their institutions to stakeholders representing various interests and levels of data literacy. However, there is little research into how these professionals process data and none into what aspects are important to institutional researchers when planning and executing these analyses. Given the importance of student persistence in higher education, this study used mixed methods to examine the factors institutional researchers consider when selecting a quantitative approach to exploring persistence and how they apply to selecting a quantitative approach. Three approaches (proportions, logistic regression, and discrete time survival analysis) were used to analyze student persistence at a bachelor’s degree granting college and the findings from each approach were compared. The differences among these findings were shared in four focus groups of institutional researchers and administrators where participants discussed their experiences in collecting and analyzing persistence data and communicating the findings. Participants shared that the operational limitations of the approaches, the need for methodological rigor, their institutional data culture, and the way persistence was operationalized in the request are driving factors in which approaches they use. These findings present a different perspective on how to select a quantitative analysis approach than the purely methodological process taught in academia suggesting that practical learning would improve future institutional researchers’ preparation for the profession.

Abstract Format



148 pages

Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright is held by the author.