Application of Investment Theory to Predicting Part-Time Community College Student Intent and Institutional Persistence/Departure Behavior

Morris A. Okun, Linda Ruehlman, Paul Karoly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Two hypotheses that are derived from investment theory were tested with a sample of part-time, working community college students. According to investment theory, satisfaction (perceived benefits minus perceived costs), alternative value (the quality of the best alternative), and investment (stake in organization) exert direct effects on intent to stay or leave an organization and indirect effects on persistence/departure behavior. As predicted, alternative value and college satisfaction were strong predictors of intent (to stay, to leave, or to stop out). Contrary to our hypothesis, investment predicted institutional persistence when intent was included in the model. A heuristic, psychological framework is proposed for examining the departure decision process among nontraditional college students.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)212-220
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1991


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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