Date of Award

1-1-2010

Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Department

Educational Leadership and Policies

Sub-Department

Educational Administration

First Advisor

Michelle Maher

Abstract

In recent years, community colleges have garnered national attention in terms of their potential to produce graduates and assist in the revitalization of the national economy. This has resulted in an increased need for both community college researchers and practitioners to understand more fully the factors that influence student persistence. The purpose of this study was to add to the understanding of community college practices and student persistence at the institution level. The study included survey responses and IPEDS data for a nationally representative sample of 259 community colleges. Survey respondents were asked to report their implementation of institutional practices in five key policy areas: student orientation, academic advising, course registration, course attendance, and early alert systems. It was hypothesized that implementation of these practices would have a positive influence on student persistence. Quantitative analysis revealed that the institutions implemented the practices at relatively low rates. Chi-square analysis found that for four of the practices, larger institutions implemented the practices at lower rates than would be expected. Further quantitative analysis, including means testing and simultaneous regression, revealed that none of the institutional practices had positive and significant influences on student persistence. Supplemental analysis of survey responses suggested that some of the lack of implementation may be due to lack of resources, an unwillingness to limit student access or flexibility, or inconsistent buy-in by faculty and staff. The lack of influence of the practices may be a reflection of the relative lack of implementation of the practices. Future researchers may want to consider more qualitative methods to more deeply probe into the reasons that these practices are or are not implemented at given institutions.

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