Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Katherine M. Kasten

Second Advisor

Dr. Kenneth Wilburn

Third Advisor

Dr. David Jaffee

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Luke Cornelius

Department Chair

Dr. Jennifer Kane

College Dean

Dr. Larry Daniel


The purpose of this study was to explore what institutional factors affect retention and student success at a Florida public, 4-year university for commuter students. This study included institutional factors controlled by the university that affect retention with students who commute to the institution. Commuter students compose over 80% of enrollment at the nation’s college and university campuses. This mixed-method study included both a survey and focus groups. In the first part of the study, quantitative data were collected, using the Noel-Levitz Student Satisfaction Inventory (SSI). The survey analysis of the data collected using the SSI indicated that the scores for the scales were not statistically significant in determining whether or not a student would choose the university again. In the second part, focus groups were conducted to better understand student satisfaction with the institutional factors. Four main themes emerged from data analysis: (a) location and other reasons to attend the institution, (b) connectedness to the institution, (c) institutional factors that assist with progression toward degree, and (d) obstacles to graduation. Four major conclusions were addressed: students who participated in this study had higher levels of satisfaction with library services and academic advising services than with other institutional factors, commuter students were not participating in student organizations or social activities on campus because they needed to balance external obligations with their academic careers, that students in the focus groups appeared to have an instrumental view of their college experiences and are focused on what they needed to do to complete course and degree requirements, and commuter student desired to have increased regular interactions with faculty teaching courses in their major fields. In conclusion, because commuter student are the majority population on many campuses, college administrators and faculty will need to continue providing opportunities for commuter student engagement and academic success.