Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Secondary Education and Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Karen Embry Jenlink, Ed.D.

Second Advisor

Ali Hachem, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Patrick M. Jenlink, Ed.D.

Fourth Advisor

Shelby Laird, Ph.D.


Educational leaders in forestry have been challenged to increase and diversify the pipeline of ‘society ready’ foresters. To meet these challenges, leaders must shift their focus to student retention. By understanding the factors that influence student engagement and persistence, these leaders will be better positioned to support students in forestry programs, thus positively impacting retention. This qualitative case study investigated student persistence of second-year forestry students in an undergraduate forestry program. The study was guided by Social Cognitive Theory and Social Capital Theory and explored the malleable psychosocial mechanisms of self-efficacy, sense of belonging, emotion, and well-being proposed by Kahu & Nelson (2018). The qualitative case study utilized focus group interviews with purposefully selected groups of forestry students, including females, underrepresented minority students, and veterans. Data was collected using a semi-structured questionnaire and analyzed through open and selective hand coding. Three major themes of student persistence were discovered: (a) Understanding of student barriers; (b) Understanding the educational interface; and (c) Expectations of a career and future. The research findings demonstrate how forestry leaders can create an academic environment that positively impacts student persistence and success.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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