Factors for Student Persistence in Doctorate Programs

Factors for Student Persistence in Doctorate Programs 


The purpose of this literature review is to investigate the factors that are associated with the ability of students to persist in online doctorate programs in business. Studies show that a lack of persistence in online education can contribute to non-completion of the program and attrition. Additionally, studies show that there are facilitators and barriers that can significantly impact doctoral persistence. There are several factors associated with student persistence in an online program. These factors include but are not limited to time management skills, satisfaction with online learning, a sense of membership in a learning community, peer and family support, increased communication with the instructor, and internal motivation. One factor that is not  related to knowledge incorporates the ability to obtain support, which can allow students to overcome hardships in completing an online degree. This paper addresses those issues and looks at the studies associated with the above factors. 

Keywords:  doctoral, persistence, online, education, attrition

Doctoral Persistence: Literature Review


     The concept of doctoral persistence generally refers to the continuance of a student’s progress toward the successful completion of a doctoral degree despite obstacles, interferences, or adverse circumstances. Researchers have discerned that there are several distinct factors that can act as both facilitators and barriers to persistence in successfully completing a doctorate degree, whether residential or online. Depending on the circumstances, these factors may either positively or negatively affect a doctorate student’s ability to complete the program. Facilitators are considered to be those factors that positively correlate to persistence in completing a degree. Alternatively, barriers are those factors that negatively correlate to persistence, and can cause a student to drop out or withdraw from the program (Spaulding & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2012).

Time Management Skill as a Facilitator

     Holder (2007) deemed time management skill as an essential facilitator and a major academic ability that has a positive effect on doctoral persistence. The author’s study found that the main aspects of time management skill contributing to doctoral persistence are awareness, planning, and monitoring. Awareness of expectations helps students to be clear about their obligations and goals so that they can get prepared. Planning provides a short and long term view of prioritizing and implementing daily and weekly tasks within a schedule. Monitoring allows students to establish what works and to control distractions and time wasters.  Thus, time management skill yields to persistent students who display better study habits and complete work in a timely fashion (Holder, 2007). 



Flexibility In Time Management

     Moreover, Dews-Farrar (2018) purported that the flexibility of an online doctorate program is very attractive to students attempting to manage time with balancing work and family demands. The study reported that doctorate students participating in an online program find the convenience and flexibility of the schedule to be a positive characteristic in their learning experience. The online format allows students to have more control over their schedule and course work, which helps them to accomplish tasks with less disruption. Although several participants favored in-class experiences in education, all students noted that convenience was imperative to completing coursework and managing family and work demands (Morris, Finnegan, & Wu, 2005).

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     Nash (2005) supported this finding. The study reported that the flexibility of an online education provided the means of obtaining a degree of higher education to some students who may not have otherwise been able, due to demanding schedules. Additionally, Bunn (2004) noted that a heavy workload is not automatically a problem as long as students have a realistic expectation of what will be incorporated in the program. The author also noted that students who take action in planning to accommodate an expected workload tend to be persistent in completing a degree.

Task Completion and Time Management

     Holder (2007) asserted that students with the ability to successfully manage time, the ability to stay on task with assignments and readings, and good study habits have a better chance to persist in comparison to those who do not. Stanford-Bowers (2008) agrees with this assertion. The author deemed that students, administrators, and faculty acknowledge the importance of time  management in persistence of completing a degree. Ultimately, time management is a necessary skill for completing tasks in a specific amount of time and reaching important deadlines. It helps students reach their goals.

Goal Commitment as a Facilitator

     Goal commitment, refers to the degree to which an individual is determined to achieve a desired or required goal. Ivankova and Stick (2007) purported that goal attachment and commitment to graduation is a characteristic found in all levels of online or residential students except the ones who withdrew from a course when facing difficulties. This was especially true for doctoral students. Graduates were deemed as the most motivated in terms of goal attachment and commitment. However,  students who stick it out through a tough course were also positively motivated. Thus, students who made the decision to withdraw from difficult courses were found to be the least motivated to complete their degree. The study also found that persistent students viewed their education as important to goal attainment and valued the career or financial results of their education accomplishments (Ivankova & Stick, 2007).

Self-Efficacy and Motivation as Facilitators

     Holder (2007) found self-efficacy to be one of the most important criteria that can differentiate the persistent student from the one who will not complete a doctorate degree. The term simply represents one’s belief in one’s ability to succeed in specific situations. Self-efficacy for learning and performance appears to correlate with higher confidence of the student to successfully complete the courses of a graduate program, as well as a higher expectation to do well. The author suggested that personal determination to succeed strongly contributes to persistence in a degree completion.

     Kemp (2002) extended that internal self-motivation yields to the resiliency that directly creates a higher level of self-efficacy. The author stated that a higher level of self-efficacy will positively affect a student’s effort expended on studies and increase resiliency in the face of obstacles to persistence. In relation, Ivankova and Stick (2007) hypothesized that persistent students are generally highly motivated to complete their program of study, while students who are less motivated will likely withdraw. Self-motivation, along with personal challenge and responsibility are as the intrinsic motivators that encourage students to complete a program. Thus, self-motivation becomes one of the factors used to differentiate between persistent and non-persistent students (Ivankova & Stick, 2007).

Quality Of Interactions And Feedback as a Facilitator

     Ojokheta (2011) found positive and encouraging feedback to be important to the persistence of students. In this study, the authors postulated that feedback provided by faculty would have an impact on student perceptions of course content. The qualitative findings indicated that in addition to promptness, the quality of feedback and the willingness of faculty to meet student needs are viewed as important to student persistence. Thus, feedback patterns had a direct effect on a student’s ability to successfully complete courses in online degree programs. This linkage of learning environment, motivation, feedback, and perceptions can directly lead to positive student outcomes (Ojokheta, 2011).

Support as a Facilitator

     Faculty feedback is a form of support, however emotional support is also seen as an important factor in doctoral persistence. Emotional support can be derived from the encouragement of family, friends, or peers. Park and Choi (2009) reported that persistent students perceived family and friends to be supportive of their educational endeavors, whereas non-persistent student reported to receive less support. Thus,  persistent students tended to score higher in having supportive partners and in maintaining healthy relationships (Park and Choi, 2009).

    Moreover, Bunn (2004) noted that a feeling of teamwork within the classroom can significantly contribute a sense of support and increase persistence. In this study, classmates and faculty were seen as  imperative to student persistence, because  feedback and social connections with peers and faculty contribute to the ability to complete a course despite hardships. In addition, technical support can influence persistence positively. Technical support consists of practical assistance with computer and technology. Since students have varying levels of computer skills, tutorials outside of the regular course can be helpful (Bunn, 2004).

Grade Point Average as a Facilitator

     Harrell and Bower (2011) reported that grade point average is a significant predictor of student persistence. The authors postulated that students with higher grade point averages are better able to maneuver within an online environment and display more successful academic behaviors as opposed to students with lower grade point averages. Furthermore, this finding is consistent with previous evidence that lower grade point averages are associated with higher rates of withdrawal (Harrell & Bower, 2011).

College Status and Graduating Term as Facilitators

      Levy (2009) proposed that college status and graduating term are related factors in persistence. College status refers to student placement within a program and graduating term indicates when the student expects to graduate from his or her associated program. Students who are at a higher status and closer to graduation are more likely to persist in their program of study. Thus, it is argued that that prior educational experience may augment confidence through increased familiarity with the an online or in-class environment (Levi, 2009).

Satisfaction And Relevance as Facilitators

     Levy (2009) also postulated that higher levels of student satisfaction yields to further progression in an online graduate program. The study found that satisfaction was a significant predictor of student persistence, as the withdrawn and inactive students reported a 20% satisfaction rate. When students are not satisfied with faculty or learning, they are more apt to be less successful than their persistent counterparts. The author noted that the association between satisfaction and learning suggests that institutions should place major emphasis on student  satisfaction as a means of promoting persistence. Park and Choi (2009) supported this finding with persistent students rating relevance and satisfaction significantly higher than those who dropped from an online program.

Social Connectedness Or Presence as Facilitators

     Social connectedness and presence can also be positive facilitators. Studies assessing social connectedness found that persistent students believe social relationships can be established in an online environment. Liu, Gomez, and Yen (2009) reported that persistent students were comfortable with the discussion format of an online course, and non-persistent students were the least satisfied with their  comfort level in this environment. The authors reported a strong positive correlation between social presence and retention. Their findings indicated that students who are more adept in forming positive social relationships in the online environment will likely be persistent. Students with stronger social connections to peers will derive support and encouragement to persist. This sense of a virtual community contributes significantly to a model used to distinguish between persistent and non-persistence students (Liu, Gomez, & Yen, 2009).



Isolation and Decreased Engagement as Barriers

     On the flip side, isolation and decreased engagement can be barriers to persistence, especially in an online environment. Morris, Wu, and Finnegan (2005) cited two types of isolation. The first type is isolation from faculty, and the second type is isolation from fellow students. Engagement activities represent the time spent reading and responding to posts as well as viewing discussions and content pages. The study found that non-persistent students were less satisfied with an online environment, reporting a lower comfort level compared to persistent learners. The study also reported that there were statistically significant differences in the amount of time spent in engagement activities between students who withdraw from a course and successful completers. Participation was held to be a distinguishing factor between withdrawers and completers (Morris, Wu, and Finnegan, 2005). 

College Status and Graduating Term as Barriers

     In contrast to facilitating factors, college status and graduating term can also be considered barriers to persistence. Levy (2009) postulated that students who were at a lower college status and further from graduation were more likely to drop out from a program of study. The author concluded that students with less experience in online learning are more apt to withdraw than students who are nearing completion of a program of study. It was also observed that when students are faced with less than an optimal grade, they may electively withdraw from a course and retake the course at a later time (Levy, 2009).  

Poor Communication as a Barrier

     Aragon and Johnson (2008) noted that students strongly view incomplete or ineffective communication as a barrier to persistence. Late or non-existent communication regarding changes, slow feedback, difficulty in contacting faculty and staff, and limited communication with faculty were specific issues reported in the study. These issues were deemed as negative contributors and obstacles that hindered effective and timely completion of assignments. The study also reported that negative student perceptions of the level of instructor responsiveness can lead to a decision to withdraw from an online course (Aragon & Johnson, 2008). 

Lack of Computer Accessibility as a Barrier

     Stanford-Bowers (2008) found that administrators, faculty, and students view computer access and accessibility as necessary for persistence in an online course. This finding is a practical concern, as the nature of an online course logically demands the ability to access and interact with course content via the computer. Due to this fact, computer accessibility is seen as a major concern in a consensus of administration, faculty, and students (Stanford-Bowers, 2008).

Difficulty in Accessing Resources

     Nonetheless, difficulty in accessing resources though the electronic library, can be problematic for students and negatively affect persistence. Bunn (2004) reported that when students have a negative experience with the electronic library, they are often reluctant to problem-solve and typically make alternate plans. Furthermore, dissatisfaction with resources also causes difficulties in obtaining course materials. Thus, the author found that lack of a single point of contact was viewed as contributing to dissatisfaction with support (Bunn, 2004).

Non-Academic Issues as Barriers

     Lastly, balancing work and family obligations is a recurring barrier to student persistence according to Aragon & Johnson (2008). Many students use coping measures such as decreasing leisure activities or socialization with friends to complete schoolwork. However, the authors noted that the computer format of online courses does help in allowing students to maintain family and work schedules. Nonetheless, the study found that personal time constraints are a common theme among those students who were unable to successfully complete an online course (Aragon & Johnson, 2008).


     In summary, doctoral persistence is a concept that represents the compilation of skills, attitudes, and behaviors that are essential for a student to successfully complete an online doctorate degree. It is important that the factors that may enhance persistence or create barriers to completion of a program be researched and understood in order to improve persistence among students. Information collected through continued research can strengthen the phenomenon of persistence for online students and also be valuable to educators (Spaulding & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2012).


Aragon, S. R., & Johnson, E. S. (2008). Factors influencing completion and noncompletion of community college online courses. The American Journal of Distance Education, 22(3), 146-158. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://www.learntechlib.org/p/102060/

Bunn, J. (2004). Student persistence in a LIS distance education program. Australian Academic Research Libraries, 35(3), 253-270. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/271622926_Student_Persistence_in_a_LIS_Distance_Education_Program

Dews-Farrar, V. (2018). Students’ reflections and experiences in online learning: A qualitative descriptive inquiry of persistence. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 1-264. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from

  https://search.proquest.com/openview/c49a1685de73874563ad5bf2526875ca/1?pq-    origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y

Harrell, I. L. & Bower, B. L. (2011). Student characteristics that predict persistence in community college online courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 25(3), 178-191. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from http://www.sciepub.com/reference/129976

Holder, B. (2007). An investigation of hope, academics, environment, and motivation as predictors of persistence in higher education online programs. The Internet and Higher Education, 10, 245-260. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1096751607000528

Ivankova, N. V., & Stick, S. L. (2007). Collegiality and community-building as a means for sustaining student persistence in the computer-mediated asynchronous learning environment. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 8(3), 1-11. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from http://www.adesignmedia.com/OnlineResearch/Collegiality%20and%20Community%20-%20Building%20as%20a%20Means%20for%20Sustaining%20Student%20Persistence%20in%20the%20Computer%20-%20Mediated%20Asynchronous%20Learning%20Environment.htm

Kemp, W. C. (2002). Persistence of adult learners in distance education. The American Journal of Distance Education, 16(2), 65-81. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/248940537_Persistence_of_Adult_Learners_in_Distance_Education

Liu, S. Y., Gomez, J., & Yen, C. (2009). Community college online course retention and final grade: Predictability of social presence. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 8(2), 165-182. Retrieved from http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/8.2.5.pdf

Morris, L. V., Finnegan, C., & Wu, S. (2005). Tracking student behavior, persistence, and achievement in online courses. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(3), 221-231.Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ803746

Morris, L. V., Wu, S., & Finnegan, C. (2005). Predicting retention in online general education courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 19(1), 23-36. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from http://www.rhartshorne.com/fall-2012/eme6507-rh/cdisturco/eme6507-eportfolio/documents/Morris%20Wu%20&%20Finnegan%202005.pdf

Nash, R. D. 2005. Course completion rates among distance learners: Identifying possible methods to improve retention. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration,  8(4). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter84/nash84.htm

Ojokheta, K. O. (2011). A path-analytic study of some correlates predicting persistence and student’s success in distance education in Nigeria. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education, 11(1), 181-192. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ886460.pdf

Park, J. H., & Choi, H. J. (2009). Factors influencing adult learners’ decision to drop out or persist in online learning. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 207-217. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3b3c/47a09120bcd232369e29ea383593e251b220.pdf

Spaulding, L. S., & Rockinson-Szapkiw, A. J. (2012). Hearing their Voices: Factors Doctoral Candidates Attribute to their Persistence. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 200-219. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from http://ijds.org/Volume7/IJDSv7p199-219Spaulding334.pdf

Stanford-Bowers, D. E. (2008). Persistence in online classes: A study of perceptions among community college stakeholders. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 4(1), 37-50. Retrieved on November 4, 2018, from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol4no1/stanford-bowers0308.pdf


Increasing Enrollment and Persistence through Student Success Programming


     American higher education institutions are facing many challenges with the shifting sands of policies of best practices. One of the greatest challenges being the declining enrollment and difficulty retaining postsecondary students. For the eighth consecutive year (Fain, 2019), enrollments have been down. As of May 2019, American higher education enrollment was down 1.7% (approximately 300,000 students) from the year prior (Fain, 2019).  This decline in enrollment is creating a greater cavern in achievement, starving out many of the smaller schools while the large and elite thrive. As fewer people choose to pursue higher education, colleges are fighting to retain their students and see them through to credential completion. To combat this issue of retention, universities are implementing various success programming such as academic coaching, advising centers, first-year experience curriculum, supplemental instruction, tutoring, various organizations, and more. This paper will review many types of programming, but will focus on mentoring and its role in student success.

Academic Coaching

     Academic Coaching and mentoring are services that have experienced growing demand. In the early literature on higher education success programming there was not a clear definition of mentoring. However, mentoring has recently come into focus as a respected tool for enhancement and persistence in the undergraduate experience. In 2009, Crisp studied mentoring in higher education and developed a new definition as

Support provided to college students that entails emotional and psychological guidance and support, help succeeding in academic coursework, assistance examining and selecting degree and career options, and the presence of a role model by which the student can learn from and copy their behaviors relative to college going (Crisp, 2009).

     Additionally, it has become clear through various studies that self-efficacy is positively linked to student academic success. Albert Bandura, a researcher at Stanford University, defined self-efficacy “as people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives” (1994). Essentially, self-efficacy is the confidence in oneself to achieve an established goal. The typical American student benefits from education about and empowerment to practice self-efficacy. This social cognitive theory supports the college student through their transitional  experiences, including the progression from high school to college, achieving academic excellence, as well as persisting to graduation with their cohort, (Bandura, 1994).

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      Academic coaches and mentors accept the charge to be a case manager for students seeking guidance in their college careers. As a part of their duties, they are put through a rigorous selection progress and intensively trained before their employment and throughout their tenure to teach and workshop self-efficacy for their mentees. These students are often personally and professionally developing their peers while being developed themselves by their direct supervisor.

       Additionally, it is commonplace to have peer mentors attached to a freshman college orientation courses to serve as a leader. At South Alabama, these students are called “JagPALs” and they attend a First-Year Experience course, hold office hours for their students, communicate with them reminders about upcoming assignments and events, as well as coordinate social engagement events. In this role, students are trained to be effective team builders and to identify when students need any additional resources (tutoring, counseling, student health, etc.). Later in this paper, first-year experience programs will be wholly defined.

Advising Centers

     Another support feature for students can be found in the centralized academic advising module. In addition to the specialized advising that takes place with faculty in the academic departments, many institutions are supporting a centralized advising for the first year (sometimes the second year, as well). Research literature on student retention and attrition suggests that contact with a professional advisor at the college is a vital factor in a student’s decision to continue enrollment in college (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Glennen, Farren, & Vowell, 1996). Advisors in centralized units are charged with taking an unbiased approach to a student’s academic and professional goals to make sure that their current actions will add up to future success. For example, a student who is studying forensic science because they love watching NCIS, but hate science, may be better suited in a theater arts program.

     The advising staff is well-trained and heavily credentialed professionals. Many advisors have completed their master’s degree and are active in their professional organization, NACADA. The network, NACADA, is the national educational development association for academic advisors, faculty, administrators, and students (About us, 2017). It supports advisors with tools and data needed to supplement the personal and educational development of their students. Additionally, NACADA members gain access to open forums, fostering a healthy exchange of concepts and exploration of publications.

First-Year Experience

     Generations of students ago, convocations would open by a dean telling the students to “look to the left and look to the right,” followed by “one of these two classmates will not be here this time next year,” (Hunter, 2006). Thankfully, institutional support for first-year student involvement has increased over the last 40 years (Hunter, 2006). A 1984 study sponsored by the National Institute of Education titled Involvement in Learning: Realizing the Potential of American Undergraduate Education claimed that higher education administrators needed to assign resources (faculty, real estate, marketing, etc.) to enhance the services provided to students in their first and second year of college (Neihaus, 2018). There has been a misconception by students that enrolling in college is comparable to beginning the 13th grade–this is simply not true. Secondary and postsecondary cultures are different in nearly every aspect (academically, socially, and financially).

     Completing the transition from high school to college does not happen by chance, but by intentional planning and action on behalf of the university community, as well as the student. Because of this requirement for intentionality, many colleges have implemented a First-Year Experience course requirement for nearly all students in their first year of postsecondary education. In this course, typically taken in the student’s first semester, major concepts and resources needed to successfully complete the first term are explored and reinforced. These concepts include time management, financial literacy, how to get involved on campus, using the library system, academic resources, counseling services, study abroad, and many more.

     Another component of many first-year programs is participation in a common reading program. These look different across college campuses, but at South Alabama the book is built into the First-Year Experience curriculum. University community members are invited to read the same book–this year titled When the Emperor was Divine by Julie Otsuka–and participate in discussions and activities in the classroom and on-campus. These common reading programs typically tie into supporting objectives of the University Strategic Plan. For example, at the University of South Alabama, the Common Read/Common World  program supports Goal One of the Strategic Plan: Build upon the academic quality and learning environment of the University (University of South Alabama, 2015).

Supplemental Instruction

     Created at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, supplemental instruction (SI) “is a non-remedial approach to learning that supports students toward academic success by integrating ‘what to learn’ with ‘how to learn,’” (SI, 2015). This program employs a student to go to a predetermined course and host study sessions outside of the scheduled class time to clarify concepts as the students need. The small group sessions are conducted by supplemental instructors who have gone through a fairly intensive training program to ensure proper conduct and instruction in a peer-to-peer teaching method. Typically, an SI is attached to high-risk courses as identified by faculty, while their day-to-day support and evaluations come from their supervisor who is trained in SI best practices.


      Course-specific tutoring is typically offered–for no additional cost–at the collegiate level for most freshman and sophomore level general education courses. The College Reading & Learning Association (CRLA) is the leading organization for training peer tutors and mentors at the postsecondary level. A tutoring center provides much more than the answers to homework. Often, these programs aim to create a new framework to view the learning process and teach the students how to learn the most efficient way for them.

     A typical tutoring appointment often has five objectives: get to know the student and their expectations, assess their current knowledge on the subject identified, encourage the student to persist, clarify the concept, work together with the student to create a plan of action to complete the learning circle and ensure subject mastery (Agee et. al, 2012). A successful tutoring program can be a driving force behind impressive student retention. Take for example the University of South Carolina-Columbia (UofSC), a leader in the field of student academic success. UofSC has their administration’s full support behind their Academic Success unit. This unit provides tutoring (course and writing), workshops on academic integrity, sophomore initiatives, success consultations, supplemental instruction, student conduct education, transfer student support, and University 101 (first-year seminar). According to the 2017 Freshman-Junior Retention Report by School, UofSC has an 89% retention rate for students in their freshman to sophomore year, and 83% of their students persist from freshman to junior year. Clearly, the data shows that supporting the faculty and staff to provide success resources for students throughout their academic journey will pay dividends in the retention and persistence side of the house.


     Empowering students with the tools to persist to degree completion is a key focus of student academic success units across the country. We know that 40% of the students who pursue a postsecondary degree will abandon their goal before earning their degree (DeBerard et. al, 2004). Student success must be facilitated by intentional actions to support those pursuing higher education.

      Additionally, many institutions are identifying that students with secondary qualifiers (veterans, transfers, adult students, etc.) are requiring specialized outreach. The University of South Carolina has implemented a department dedicated to the success of their students who have transferred in to USC, as well as a department for students who are veterans. While South Carolina serves as a model institution, other colleges and universities should follow their lead in being a student-centered and student-ready college by providing individualized success programming.

     Higher education has experienced various eras (colonial, post-World Wars, Golden Age, etc.), but is now in the age of student consumerism. Prospective students are pursuing alternate forms of career preparation, such as technical programs, certificate trainings, community college education, and more. Many of the students enrolling at the university-level require a variety of support services detailed in this report, and it is a buyer’s market. Institutions must be innovative in their student success support to be competitive in the market in light of declining enrollments across the United States.



About Us. (2017). Retrieved July 20, 2019, from https://www.nacada.ksu.edu/About-Us.aspx

Agee, K. S., In Hodges, R., & College Reading and Learning Association,. (2012). Handbook for training peer tutors and mentors.

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).

Crisp, G., & Cruz, I. (2009). Mentoring College Students: A Critical Review of the Literature between 1990 and 2007. Research in Higher Education, 50, 525-545. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-009-9130-2

Fain, P. (2019, May 30). College Enrollment Declines Continue. Retrieved July 15, 2019, from https://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2019/05/30/college-enrollment-declines-continue

Hunter, M. S. (2006). Fostering Student Learning and Success through First-Year Programs. Peer Review: Emerging Trends and Key Debates in Undergraduate Education, 8(3), 4-7.

Niehaus, E. (2018). Realizing the Potential of International Education in Leadership Learning. New Directions for Student Leadership, 2018(160), 53-62. doi:10.1002/yd.20310

Otsuka, J. (2003). When the Emperor was Divine. New York, NY: Anchor Books.

Scott, M., I.|Julka, G., & L., D. (2004, March 01). Predictors of Academic Achievement and Retention among College Freshmen: A Longitudinal Study. Retrieved July 10, 2019, from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ701984

The International Center for Supplemental Instruction: Home. (2015). Retrieved July 12, 2019, from https://info.umkc.edu/si/

University of South Alabama. (2015). Strategic Plan. In University of South Alabama Strategic Plan 2016-2020. Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://www.southalabama.edu/departments/presidentsoffice/strategicplan.html

University of South Carolina. (2017). 2017 Freshman-Junior Retention Report by School. In Retention Reports by School. Retrieved July 17, 2019 from https://www.sc.edu/about/offices_and_divisions/institutional_research_assessment_and_analytics/documents/retention/retent-fresh-jr-by-school-2017.pdf


Analysis of Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’

The Persistence of Memory is a surreal landscape created in 1931 by the famous Spanish artist, Salvador Dali. This oil painting measures 9 1/2 x 13 inches, or 24.1 x 33 cm and is on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA). It has been displayed in galleries worldwide and is a symbol of Dali’s work.

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The Persistence of Memory contains a light blue horizon, which slowly fades downward from blue to yellow across the top quarter of the painting. Under the skyline sits a body of water, or what looks to be a large lake or a reflecting pool. The body of water traces the skyline until it interacts with neighboring mountains to the right. In front of the mountains there is lone pebble.
On the left close to the water, Dali places a reflective, blue, elevated, rectangular platform with dark brown trimming around the edges. Placed in front of this platform, there is another single pebble. A lifeless tree with a hollow top, is in front of it, missing all of its leaves and branches but one. The single branch holds a silver pocket watch which appears to be melting on the end of the branch showing the numbers three through nine. Only one hand of the watch is shown, pointing at the 6. The tree is located on top of a light brown square object that looks desk-like. The brown object takes over the bottom left corner of the painting, and even goes off the canvas. On this object there are two more pocket watches residing. One of them is gold and melted, hanging half way off the light brown cube. The hands of the gold watch are stopped at five of seven and there is a fly on the face near the 1 o’clock mark. The fly is also casting a very small shadow, which is shaped more like a human. The other pocket watch is bronze and shut. The exterior of the pocket watch is covered with a swarm of black ants. Unlike the other clocks, this is shut, and the only one that is not warped or melted of the four.
The ground in The Persistence of Memory is a dark brown that almost turns black in certain areas. On it lies a white figure on its right side with another silver-colored melting clock on its back. The white figure is human-like, with over emphasized large eyelashes. It has a what looks to be a trade mark Salvador Dali moustache and lips where eyebrows would be on a human face. Its nose is flared and has another small brown object coming out of the right nostril. The white figure has no limbs or other human-like characteristics. The rest of the scenery around the white figure is dark and barren.
The Persistence of Memory uses the basic elements of art including a plethora of lines, values, shapes, form, colors, and texture (Glatstein). The lines that Dali uses in the painting vary on the shape which he is working with. Most of the painting contains lines that are relatively thin and similar in width, with the exception of the mountains, and the eyelashes of the white figure. The lines on the mountains are noticeable, and give them a rough realistic approach. On the white figure Dali uses different lengths and widths to create individuality in each lash. He also makes everything detailed down to the very last ant on the bronze watch. The lines that make up the watches are so detailed that they even show each number on the faces. The use of lines also improve the realistic look of the reflection of the mountains in the water. The lines on the platform and brown object are straight and symmetric. He does not leave many visible sketch marks in this painting, so it is not clear or easy to distinguish his lines from shading. The lines that he does show usually complement the dark shadows of his surrealist landscape.
The values and shading in this painting are very drawn out and detailed. The shadows in Dali’s Persistence of Memory are the heart and soul of the piece, creating a universe that has never been seen before. Thick values highlight details and color, giving a three dimensional illusion to this piece. On the tree, the values are implied to create the illusion of bark, while the limp clock it is holding on its branch uses value to create a tarnished and three dimensional effect. The brown object also uses shading to get this effect. The watches on the brown cube have detailed shading on and around them, and use color to shade and give a shiny effect. The melting one uses a great deal of color on the face, while the watch with the ants draws attention to the insects covering it. The ground is primarily solid brown, with vivid black shadows overpowering the landscape. This stresses the amount of sunlight that is shown in the landscape, reflecting off of other interacting objects. The mountains use a combination of light and darkness mixed with color rather than only black to create this style. Some of the ridges on the mountains are shaded with black, along with other parts of the painting such as the white figure and the brown cube where the two pocket watches are placed. The ants are all black, and have very little shading, while the fly on the other watch only has a blue shadow of a human figure. The white figure has shading throughout its entire body. There is heavy shading on his head, nose eyelashes, and where its body touches the ground.
This painting contains a variety of shapes and forms that add to the uniqueness of its style. There are noticeable figures and shapes, and unidentifiable ones throughout the painting. The blue platform in the far corner is a solid three dimensional rectangle, as is the large brown cube in front of it. In these objects the lines are straight and solid, and although the object is not identifiable, the geometric shapes are (Jirousek). The way that the clocks are melting adds a sense of movement and flimsiness. The mountains are recognizable shapes, along with the body of water surrounding them. The tree is easily identified, as are ants and the fly. The white figure is almost cubist, missing parts and anatomical structures, somewhat resembling a Picasso or Braque painting. It still contains human qualities, like the eyelashes and the nose but lacks a solid form. Many of the objects in this painting interact with others, either resting on or touching. The clocks are an example of this because they almost mold to whatever object they come into contact with. This painting is three dimensional, geometric, and abstract, and does not stick to all traditional shapes or forms (Jirousek).
The color scheme along with the shading work to bring the painting to life. The colors are not vivid or bright, but more saturated and dark. Dali uses shadow and color together to create a different experience. The colors in The Persistence of Memory are primarily warm including a lot of yellow, gold, black, and brown (Warm Colors). The browns on the cube and the scenery range from light to dark. The mountains are a shade of yellow, along with a lot of what the sun touches in the painting. The watches are gold, silver, and bronze and have a shine to them because of the color and shading. There are also cool colors in this piece including blue, white, and silver (The Meaning of Color). The faces of the clocks, tree, the fly’s shadow, the sky and water are all a blue tint, working with the warm colors to balance the painting.
The texture of the painting mainly focuses on senses such as sight and touch. From smooth surfaces to rough and jagged objects, Dali intensifies the visual experience to create an imaginary sense of touch. The blue platform appears to have a smooth reflective surface, with a rough wooden underside. The tree in front of it has a course exterior with deteriorating bark. The clock on it’s weak branch has a flexible but noodle like appearance to it. The large brown object with the other two clocks on top looks smooth and almost wooden. The pocket watch with the ants on it looks smooth and shiny, but still covered in small black ants. The gold pocket watch looks melted and squishy. The hands on the watch appear to go in every direction and never stay in sync with each other. The mountains in the background look narrow, ancient, dangerous, with noticeable signs of erosion. The water looks still, clear, reflecting the mountains in the landscape. The two pebbles that are separated on the far left and right in the background have a smooth exterior. The white figure’s skin is smooth as well, although the shading gives the impression that the figure’s body is wavy and ameba-like. Its moustache and lips where his eyebrow appear to be drawn on and unnatural. The large eyelashes have a rough and soft texture, as does his nose and the rest of his face.
Salvador Dali’s painting The Persistence of Memory, uses a variety of artistic methods and principles (Glatstein). The emphasis of the piece are the four melting clocks scattered throughout the painting. Some may argue that it’s his mysterious white figure that draws more attention to the work. The painting carries a strong sense of movement as well. The melting clocks create an optical illusion, giving the viewer the impression that they are actually dripping metal. The ant colony on the bronze watch also creates a sense of motion as they scatter on its surface. The cracked and crumbling mountains add to this movement too, while the water below and the white figure stay completely still. The use of shadows in the picture builds a strong contrast between sources of light and darkness. The lighting projects emphasis on several objects and builds three dimensions using shadow and color. The contrast also brings the three dimensional illusion to life, giving the painting its distinguishing features. The painting lacks a definite pattern or motif, and the only reoccurring object is the pocket watches. It’s scenery changes throughout the piece from geometric objects, to empty space, to mountains. In this piece the vanishing point appears to make sense and the water touching the skyline gives an illusion of distance. The proportion of the other objects in the painting however, do not follow traditional standards. The pocket watches seem ridiculously large and warped in every direction, while the tree holding the silver watch up is similar in size to the pocket watch. The overall unity of Dali’s painting brings mixed emotions. The interpretation of the piece always has a critics bias either directly or indirectly. The Persistence of Memory seems to have a darker impact on people because of its style and subject matter. It is not seen as a cheerful or happy painting, but more eerie and disturbing. According to the Salvador Dali Museum this painting is known to cause fear and anxiety of the unknown surroundings (Clocking in With Salvador Dali).
Dali’s creation of this painting was not drug induced, but from melting cheese and bizarre dreams (Rochfort). The message Dali is trying to spread is that life is fast paced and full of choices which sometimes produce unfavorable outcomes, but we move on. The clocks are only stepping stones into the real meaning behind the painting. The silver watch on the tree is symbolic of a time which has recently passed (Being second closest to the white figure). The gold watch symbolizes the best years of life slowly escaping. The closed bronze watch with the ants could symbolize a time which the artist wanted to move on and forget. The one on top of the white figure symbolizes the place that he is at now and currently trying to live through. The pebbles painted on opposite sides of the canvas symbolize separation between a lover. The cracks in the mountains are obstacles that one faces before they can reach a stable point in life and find happiness. The raised blue platform in the back symbolizes the path to a higher quality of life, while the dead tree shows mortality and that nothing lives forever. The fly’s shadow in the form of a person could be another symbol of Dali’s love escaping, or that he wishes to escape reality. Many sources state that Salvador Dali had fallen in Gala, his only love and muse included in her many pieces (Salvador Dali-A Soft Self-Portrait).
This piece defines surrealism, breaking many of the norms previously adopted by artists and critics. The painting itself reflects a lot on Salvador Dali, and the way which he viewed life. His artistic style is incredible, and his “dream photographs” (Clocking in with Salvador Dali) are mind blowing. His use of colors and lighting creates a three dimensional experience that was never seen before. The lifelike qualities and absurd creatures that inhabit the piece make it so good, and separate it from the rest. It has even been noted that the white figure seen in the painting is a self portrait of Dali, (looking at the moustache above it’s eyelashes) (Clocking in with Salvador Dali).
The clocks themselves make The Persistence of Memory an iconic piece and have been emulated and parodied in popular culture as well. It surpasses much of the “Modern Art” of its time, involving more talent than just throwing paint buckets at a canvas. I was able to see this painting in person at the Philadelphia Art Museum in 2005 when the Dali Exhibit was on display.