Date of Award

12-2007

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Abstract

This study sought evidence that Pierre Bourdieu's habitus influences college graduation and college transferring patterns. Hypothesizing that low socio-economic students have to change their habitus in the elitist environment of higher education, two research questions were advanced to explore this phenomenon, the first asking if there was evidence consistent with the idea that habitus influenced graduation rates, the second question asking if there was evidence consistent with the idea that habitus influenced transferring patterns. Under each research question, several hypotheses were tested using descriptive statistics, analysis of variance, Chi square tests of independence, and logistic regressions. Income and civic participation were used to operationalize a portion of the construct of habitus. The NCES Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study: 1996-2001, was the national data set used for analysis.

Results showed that low income students who had not civically participated in high school fared the worst in college persistence, while high income students who civically participated in high school fared the best. Low income students who civically participated tended to do as well or better in most college outcomes as high income students who had not civically participated. By the end of the survey, there was evidence that low income students who had not civically participated in high school were increasing their civic participation. These factors also predicted bachelor's degree attainment.

Results for transfer patterns suggested that low income students who had not civically participated in high school transferred in high percentages to less prestigious universities or dropped out in the highest percentage, while high income students who civically participated in high school tended not to transfer, but if they did, their outcomes were successful. Low income students who civically participated in high school tended not to transfer, but when they did, transfer outcomes were mixed. High income students who had not civically participated in high school tended to transfer the most, and these transfers were successful overall, but these students tended to settle for lower level degrees at less prestigious institutions, and a high percentage never graduated.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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