Research in Higher Education

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 251–268 | Cite as

Tinto's Separation Stage and Its Influence on First-Semester College Student Persistence

  • Susan A. Elkins
  • John M. Braxton
  • Glenn W. James


Examination of student departure for various student populations, in different institutional settings, and at various stages in time is crucial in the quest to improve retention (Tinto, 1988, 1993). Therefore, this study explored first- to second-semester persistence of first-time, full-time freshmen at a public, four-year institution, focusing upon Tinto's concept of separation. The question of how various underlying dimensions of separation influence departure decisions was examined. The dimensions of (1) support and (2) rejection of attitudes and values were found to influence persistence in a statistically significant way.


College Student Education Research Student Population Institutional Setting Separation Stage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Attinasi, L. C. (1989). Getting in: Mexican Americans' perceptions of university attendance and the implications for freshman year persistence. Journal of Higher Education 60(3): 247–277.Google Scholar
  2. Boyle, T. P. (1989). An examination of the Tinto model of retention in higher education. NASPA Journal 26(4): 288–294.Google Scholar
  3. Blanc, R. A., Debuhr, L. E., and Martin, D. C. (1983). Breaking the attrition cycle: The effects of supplemental instruction on undergraduate performance and attrition. Journal of Higher Education 54(1): 80–90.Google Scholar
  4. Braxton, J. M., Brier, E. M., and Hossler, D. (1988). The influence of student problems on student withdrawal decisions: An autopsy on “autopsy” studies. Research in Higher Education 28(3): 241–253.Google Scholar
  5. Braxton, J. M., Sullivan, A. V. S., and Johnson, R. M., Jr. (1997). Appraising Tinto's theory of college student departure. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, vol. XII, pp. 107–164. New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  6. Cabrera, A. F. (1994). Logistic regression analysis in higher education: An applied perspective. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research, vol. X, pp. 225–256. New York: Agathon Press.Google Scholar
  7. Cabrera, A. F., Stampen, J. O., and Hansen, W. L. (1990). Exploring the effects of ability to pay on persistence in college. The Review of Higher Education 13(3): 303–336.Google Scholar
  8. Elkins, S. A. (1996). The ties that bind: A study of persistence of first-generation college students in a 4-year institution. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee.Google Scholar
  9. Goodman, L. A. (1976). The relationship between modified and usual multiple-regression approaches to the analysis of dichotomous variables. In D. R. Heise (Ed.), Sociological Methodology, pp. 83–110. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  10. Hsiao, K. P. (1992). First-generation college students (ERIC Digest Report No. EDOJC-00-04). Los Angeles: ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 351 079.)Google Scholar
  11. Land, K. C. (1969). Principles of path analysis. In E. F. Borgatta (Ed.), Sociological Methodology, pp. 3–37. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  12. Levine, A. and Associates. (1989). Shaping Higher Education's Future: Demographic Realities and Opportunities, 1990–2000. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  13. London, H. B. (1989). Breaking away: A study of first-generation college students and their families. American Journal of Education 97(2): 144–170.Google Scholar
  14. Nora, A., and Rendon, L. I. (1990). Determinants of predisposition to transfer among community college students. Research in Higher Education 31(3): 235–255.Google Scholar
  15. Riehl, R. J. (1994). The academic preparation, aspirations, and first-year performance of first-generation students. College and University 70(1): 14–19.Google Scholar
  16. Sobel, M. E. (1982). Asymptotic confidence intervals for indirect effects in structural equations models. In S. Leinhardt (Ed.), Sociological Methodology, pp. 290–312. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  17. Terenzini, P. T., Rendon, L. I., Upcraft, M. L., Millar, S. B., Allison, K. W., Gregg, P. L., and Jalomo, R. (1994). The transition to college: Diverse students, diverse stories. Research in Higher Education, 35(1): 57–73.Google Scholar
  18. Terenzini, P. T., Springer, L., Yaeger, P. M., Pascarella, E. T., and Nora, A. (1995). First-generation college students: Characteristics, experiences, and cognitive development. Paper presented to the Association for Institutional Research, Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  19. Tierney, W. G. (1992). An anthropological analysis of student participation in college. Journal of Higher Education, 63(6): 603–618.Google Scholar
  20. Tinto, V. (1975). Dropout from higher education: A theoretical synthesis of recent research. Review of Educational Research, 45(1): 89–125.Google Scholar
  21. Tinto, V. (1987). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Tinto, V. (1988). Stages of student departure: Reflections on the longitudinal character of student leaving. Journal of Higher Education, 59(4): 438–455.Google Scholar
  23. Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving College: Rethinking the Causes and Cures of Student Attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  24. Tinto, V. (1998). Colleges as communities: Taking research on student persistence seriously. The Review of Higher Education 21(2): 167–177.Google Scholar
  25. Wolfle, L. M., and Ethington, C. A. (1985). GEMINI: Program for analysis of structural equations, with standard errors of indirect effects. Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers 17: 381–84.Google Scholar
  26. York-Anderson, D. C., and Bowman, S. L. (1991). Assessing the college knowledge of first-generation and second-generation college students. Journal of College Student Development 32(2): 116–122.Google Scholar
  27. Zusman, A. (1994). Current and emerging issues facing higher education in the United States. In P. G. Altbach, R. O. Berdahl, and P. J. Gumport (Eds.), Higher Education in American Society pp. 335–364. Amherst, NY: Prometheus.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan A. Elkins
    • 1
  • John M. Braxton
    • 2
  • Glenn W. James
    • 3
  1. 1.Extended EducationTennessee Technological UniversityCookeville
  2. 2.Vanderbilt UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Tennessee Technological UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations