Outreach and identity development: New perspectives on college student persistence

Amy Aldous Bergerson, Bryan K. Hotchkins, Cynthia Furse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


College student persistence continues to pose challenges for higher education institutions, despite over 40 years of research. Although persistence is studied from many different angles, the majority of studies examining the causes of and cures for students' departure from college reflect the importance of engagement in the higher education environment. An innovative type of engagement is involving college students in high school outreach. This article reports on a study involving 19 college students who participated in a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded project intended to increase the enrollment and persistence of engineering students, specifically examining how engaging in outreach activities developed participants' views of themselves as engineers. We found that outreach activities incorporated several types of engagement and that participants engaged in outreach began to develop a professional engineering identity, both of which are linked to college student persistence. The study's implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory and Practice
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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