Academic and Social Integration of the Non-Traditional College Student: Does Engagement Affect Retention?
1 online resource (97 pages) : PDF
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
ABSTRACTFor years, educators from colleges and universities across the country have searched for ways to improve student engagement and increase retention. Changing demographics, decreasing enrollments and greater public demands have created unique challenges for functional and sustainable solutions. The researcher reviewed the recent literature about student retention and academic success, identifying possible solutions school administrators and faculties could utilize in the change process. One approach for colleges has been to reach out to the various types of non-traditional students. Unfortunately, the approach led to gaps in knowledge and experience required for future success. This can be easily examined by researchers analyzing the level of concern non-traditional students have through the limited social and academic experiences available when compared to regular peers who begin college at the same institution from high school. An example was the easier transition of regular students compared to the difficulty that transfers have connecting with the university faculty, students and the institution, often resulting in feelings of experiencing a disconnect from the institution (Kuh , 2009). The researcher's intention was to examine the extent non-traditional college students interacted with faculty, fellow students and the university emphasis on engagement and retention. Students in the study were transfers from two-year or four-year institutions and were accepted to the university as juniors or seniors to complete the bachelor's degree. The researcher's approach included evaluation of academic and social integration based upon attitudes and opinions reported by individuals completing the 2010 National Student Survey Engagement (NSSE) at a private, liberal arts university located in the southeastern United States. Student demographic characteristics were analyzed to determine whether there were relationships of gender, ethnicity, grades and employment with interactions with faculty, students, institutional emphasis and retention. Statistically, none of the t-tests for gender, ethnicity, and employment were significant when predicting engagement. Some of the comparisons revealed small effect sizes. Male students reported more frequent interaction with faculty in discussing ideas or readings outside of class than female students. Grades were positively and significantly correlated with overall relationships with faculty such as asking questions in class and receiving prompt feedback from faculty members. When analyzing the correlation of grades with interaction with students, there was one statistically significant correlation - discussing ideas from readings or classes with other students outside of class.Student demographic characteristics were studied to determine the relationship with retention. Females reported that the institution supported them academically, and students of other races reported more frequently than White students on institutional emphasis. Employment was associated with decreases in retention while gender, race and grades were positively associated with retention. Males were retained more than females. There were no statistically significant predictors of retention among the student interaction and institutional emphasis variables.Different aspects of social and academic integration are implemented at the university that is being studied. Even with the decrease of returning students and budget considerations, funding and resources continued to be allocated to support these activities, though these interactions have not been analyzed quantitatively to determine effectiveness or lack of effectiveness. Perhaps, the most important outcome for this study was insight to the institution about who their students were, what was important to them in the college environment and student expectations of the university. The researcher provided results of the study and insight about the specific non-traditional transfer student population and suggested guidance for researchers as well as university administration. As the cost of a college education increased and accountability for university administration is demanded, retention remains a critical issue in higher education.
Queen, J. Allen
Dika, SandraHancock, DawsonHarver, AndrewWatson, Jim
Thesis (D.Ed.)--University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 2013.
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