Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




Student attrition, persistence, student success, strength-based


Organizations of higher education are under increasing pressure to provide and validate student attrition data, particularly for funding sources and accreditation bodies. Simplistic attrition formulas comparing the number of students admitted to a program to the number of students graduating in the traditional program length problematizes both students and the organization. Approaches to student retention in higher education have evolved to focus on increasing student enrolment numbers, and subsequent funding often depends on this information. However, in taking this strategic, neoliberal approach, organizations fail to address the multifactorial nature of student attrition and the supports needed to maximize student success. This organizational improvement plan provides an alternative approach to the complex issue of student attrition by focusing on student persistence using decolonized and strength-based language. This plan calls for culturally congruent education, particularly important to an organization seeking to decolonize in light of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (2015) Calls to Action. This organizational improvement plan addresses a gap at a remote Canadian college; namely, the absence of a student and persistence plan and the need to reconnect the organization with its mission of supporting student success. Connective leadership is pivotal to this cultural change, particularly for its relationship focus and shared leadership approach. This leadership style can unite College departments to work collaboratively through professional learning communities, to support student persistence. A detailed monitoring and evaluation plan can yield the necessary data for continuous quality improvement, with the ultimate goal of increasing student success, resulting in potential long-term societal and economic benefits