Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Francisca Uvah

Committee Member

Robert Rose

Committee Member

Kimberly Durham

Abstract

Key indicators for the success of colleges and universities are the rates of retention, persistence, and college completion (Hendon & Jenkins, 2012; Schreiner, 2014; Yunfan, 2015). However, current data indicate that a large number of institutions of higher education have had to identify strategies designed to increase the academic success of the students (USDOE, 2016). The purpose of the study was to identify and understand the factors that influence graduation rates of students who attend a technical college located in central Georgia. A primary goal would be to obtain information that could be used by teachers, staff, and educational leaders to better serve the specific needs of the students. At the same time, this type of information would also be useful for educational policy makers and researchers.

Three research questions guided the development of this research. This applied dissertation required that the researcher collect data using: (a) focus groups of academic advisors on campus (research question one), (b) a survey that would directly assess the students’ level of agreement in four domains, background, financial, academic, and social (research question two), and (c) information from the focus groups with the advisors and the survey administered to students (research question three). Thematic data analyses and descriptive statistics were used to analyze the data collected from respectively, qualitative and quantitative data. Results showed that the advisors reported high levels of self-efficacy. Secondly the advisors discussed the aforementioned five factors as those that influenced the college completion rates of the students they served. Responses for the second research question were obtained from the data collected from the majority of the participants who were males (93.6%), and the majority of the sample was Caucasian American (62.8%).

Data analyses revealed that students did not report any barriers from the five domains as those that affected their ability to graduate in the expected time frame. It seems as though their responses indicated that they had positive and healthy attitudes toward and experiences with the same type factors that the Academic Advisors expressed concern. Patterns from the data also revealed two items in the social barrier domain that participants indicated disagreement. Patterns from the participants’ responses showed that they disagreed with the statements: (Q24) I feel intimidated by my instructors (M = 1.62) and Q26 I do not like working in groups with fellow students (M = 2.16). Research question three asked about the similarities and differences between the perceptions of advisors’ and students who participated in the study. Findings showed that, although the advisors identified barriers that were placed in five domains, however, the students did not agree that any of the barriers that they were asked to rate were barriers to graduation for them. Findings to specific questions participants were asked to respond in each domain are also presented and discussed. Findings to specific questions participants were asked to respond for the five domains are also presented and discussed.

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