Date of Award

Spring 3-24-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Todd Olsen

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Bruce

Committee Member

Dr. Nina Shenkle


Higher education leaders have been conducting research over the last 50 years to pinpoint why students enroll in college and then end up leaving. Research shows that there is not a single factor that influences a student’s decision, but it is a variety of factors. Influential factors include class attendance, a sense of belonging, motivation, academic rigor and performance, finances, and more. A student’s physical wellness and mental state can also impact their academic success and life while in college. First-year students often experience depression, anxiety, and loneliness as they try to successfully transition to college. Most of these influential factors are quantified and measured by institutions in real-time through predictive analytics to identify students at risk of leaving. One data point that has not been thoroughly researched is dining data. This non-experimental, causal-comparison study investigated the relationship between dining data and academic success and retention. Analysis of the data showed that dining data can predict academic success and retention, however, the strongest correlation existed between a significant change in dining habits predicting persistence into the next semester. The findings indicate that dining data should be collected by institutions and integrated into predictive analytics to identify at-risk students. Further research should be conducted to generalize the use of dining data in predictive analytics as well as investigate how dining data can be paired with other data points to further identify students in need of assistance.