Bonner Data Study
Understanding the Impacts on Persistence
In 2017, the Bonner Foundation sought to understand the impact of program participation on retention and degree completion. Engaging Ray Barclay, a respected institutional research professional, the Bonner Foundation conducted a study involving seven years of data from seven institutions that run Bonner Scholar and Bonner Leader Programs. This progression study compared data about term-to-term progression and degree completion.
Understanding that third-term (first year) retention is a key indicator for college persistence, the study took a look at how students involved in the Bonner Program compared with peers at their institutions. In five of the seven schools, students entered college with significantly lower pre-college indicators (such as SAT scores and high school GPA), consistent with the access focus of the program. For all seven schools, Bonner Program participants exhibited positive mean differences for third-term retention (i.e., higher overall retention rates) at a high level of significance (p<.001). This was true both with and without controlling for key covariates (e.g., SAT Composite, ACT). A deeper examination of subgroups (like African American, Latino, and Pell eligible students) suggested that this pattern also held true for them.