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This study examined the relationship of student use of campus recreation facilities (CRFs) with retention and graduation rates at a large, public, Midwestern Carnegie doctoral-extensive university. Tinto’s interactionalist theory of student departure provided the conceptual framework. An extensive review of the literature on the relationship between academic performance and recreation facility use identified a set of critical explanatory predictors. Although anecdotal evidence and studies of student perceptions support the contention that use of CRFs promotes social integration, thereby increasing the likelihood of persistence, few studies have employed both actual CRF visit counts to quantify use and advanced statistical methods to analyze the data. The linking of visitation data to individual student records is a unique component of this preliminary study. Maximum likelihood estimated models were used to identify which factors were related to retention and graduation. Results show positive associations between CRF usage and both first-year retention and 5-year graduation.
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