This paper contributes a new conceptual framework for understanding undergraduate student persistence. The social change model of leadership development (SCM), with its emphasis on helping students develop leadership capabilities and encouraging them to work for the common good, has been chosen for integration with Vincent Tinto’s 1975 model of student persistence, which is widely considered a landmark framework in retention and persistence scholarship. In consideration of the ways in which the SCM and the Tinto model have the potential to complement each other and address each other’s shortcomings, this paper proposes an incorporation of the frameworks toward the creation of a new structure for conceptualizing how institutions approach student persistence, and it is thus useful for a wide range of stakeholders in the field.

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