Date of Award



© 2015 Anne Ryan

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Kathleen Davis

Second Advisor

Michelle Collay

Third Advisor

Melanie Baak


This study examines the relationship of the noncognitive, dispositional characteristics of grit, volition, and mindset to student persistence in undergraduate degree programs by students considered nontraditional and at-risk at three campuses of a for-profit university in New England. Nontraditional students are faced with barriers to success in education. Despite these barriers, some students persist through to program completion. Researchers have indicated the characteristics of grit, volition, and mindset are related to success in education, however these characteristics have not been studied among a nontraditional and at-risk student population. This study measured the characteristics of grit, volition, and mindset in students at three points of program persistence: beginning, middle, and end; and compared the degrees of each characteristic at each point of program persistence. Descriptive statistics and one-way ANOVA models were used to examine and compare the three noncognitive, dispositional characteristics in each student group. The results indicated the non-traditional and at-risk population exhibited each of the three characteristics throughout enrollment. Non-cognitive, dispositional characteristics of grit, volition and a positive growth mindset play a role in student success, but may not change over time.


Ed.D. Dissertation