Date of Award

January 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Bill Phillips

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Second Advisor

Roger C. Cleveland

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership

Third Advisor

Norman W. Powell

Department Affiliation

Teaching, Learning, and Educational Leadership


This research investigation examined the legitimacy of Starfish Retention Solutions™ interactive early warning system impact on first year student’s academic engagement. The goal of the study was to diagnose first year student’s perceptual opinion of the early warning systems capacity to motivate students to seek academic resources and evaluate their level of educational satisfaction.

State legislators have been habitually cutting appropriation funding from the state budget in protest to the escalating college drop–out rates and declining graduation rates. The action of public officials has lead colleges and university administers to compensate for education costs by increasing college tuition. In response, education leadership throughout the nation have poured over academic research studies that substantiates reasons for student retention/attrition issues and suggests strategies that would combat student retention.

In recent years technological software was designed to encourage student engagement, connect students with instructors, motivate students to inquire about academic advising and encourage students to seek academic resources. One particular software technology that has gained interest from academic practitioners is Starfish Retention Solutions™.

This study was based on research expert Vincent Tinto’s four conditions of student engagement and theory of social integration. The purpose of this inquiry is to investigate if there is perceptual evidence that Starfish Retention Solutions™ early warning system has an impact on student engagement and educational satisfaction. The study was a cross-sectional research design featuring open-ended response questions. A volunteer self-reported online survey was administered through Qualtrics, a cloud based research platform, to (N = 9, 255) participants attending Bluegrass Community Technical College campuses. A cross-tabulation data analysis was conducted to analyze student opinions for gender and race/ethnicity demographics.

This body of research will be a source of supporting information for those in institutional leadership who are contemplating implementation of Starfish Retention Solutions™, in addition this research study will be a foundational platform for future research studies. Conclusively this research study will add to the limited collection of published research that is currently available.