Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Barbara Burch (Director), Margaret Maxwell, Brian Coutts

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


Dramatic declines in state appropriations for postsecondary education, the rise of performance-based funding models, and limitations on tuition increases have resulted in a focus on student retention as a matter of importance to institutions of higher education. Concomitantly, academic libraries face changes in service models brought about by technology and the rising costs of providing access to an ever-expanding field of literature required by academic programs and faculty. The value proposition of the academic library is reduced in the face of budget interests that impact recruitment and retention. Many researchers and university leaders have called on academic libraries to develop new methods of demonstrating value that do not rely on traditional measures of library use. Because this represents a departure from long-standing methods of documenting the success of the academic library’s mission, a gap exists in the literature on how best to go about this shift in assessment. Numerous studies on retention have highlighted the role of student engagement in influencing students’ withdrawal decisions. Data gathered through the National Survey of Student Engagement have validated 10 practices that have a “high impact” on student engagement and student retention. This study seeks to address the gap in the literature on the role played by academic libraries in affecting student retention by examining the perception of academic library deans/directors on the alignment between library services and resources with the 10 high-impact practices (HIPs). This exploratory study used a survey distributed to the academic library deans/directors of the public master’s level universities in the United States. A positive correlation was found between library instruction, library facilities, and library collections with each of the HIPs and consistent library support practices for each HIP. This study also found a reliance on information literacy assessment and user satisfaction to document library impact on retention. However, a large number of responding libraries reported no methods used for either the documentation or communication of library impact on retention. This study concluded that academic libraries demonstrated a high level of perceived alignment with the HIPs, yet an overall lack of methods to directly document library impact on retention.


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Library and Information Science