Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Dr. E. Paulette Isaac-Savage


Dr. Kimberly Burgess

Dr. Gwendolyn Turner

Dr. Kathleen Haywood


Student retention is a fundamental issue in higher education, with student decision-making and withdrawal at the forefront of examining that issue. Previous research has shown that personal factors are not easily addressed, but institutional factors, such as the course scheduling process, can be modified. This research study examined how the course schedule can influence degree-seeking students at a state-funded, 4-year institution by exploring the correlation between class standing and the importance of how courses are scheduled, the correlation between class standing and the ability to register for a required course, and what factors predict a student’s decision to withdraw from the university. A cross-sectional electronic survey, developed using the institution’s prior class scheduling and parking survey, was modified following a pilot study to test the questions and yielded 325 responses. Longitudinal data from the institution’s Withdrawal Survey yielded 3,540 responses. Pearson’s chi-square test and Fisher-Freeman-Halton Exact test found significant relationships between class standing and scheduling courses around one’s work schedule, family obligations, or in a preferred format, establishing that these factors were more important for upper-level students. Binomial logistic regression analysis determined the following factors as significant for withdrawing and not returning and withdrawing and transferring: a change in work schedule, relocating for a job, dissatisfaction with the major department, and a major course not being available. The findings indicate that course scheduling is crucial to student decision-making and withdrawal, leading to the recommendation that universities should focus on improving student retention by using an intentional, student-centric course scheduling model as the foundation of their institutional scheduling process.