Date of Award
Dissertation - NSU Access Only
Doctor of Education
Center for the Advancement of Education
The purpose of this Major Applied Research Project was to (1) conduct an investigation of students majoring in the industrial technology division to determine the forces which influence attrition and persistence; (2) design a retention program to counter Pie attrition problem; and (3) suggest an implementation plan to increase technology retention at Monroe County Community College. With an increasing attrition problem, decision makers at MCCC supported this study with the hope that a program could be developed to increase technology retention. Six basic research questions were examined: 1. What factors are associated with at-risk industrial technology students at MCCC? 2. What institutional barriers to retention or sources of assistance currently exist at MCCC for potential dropouts? 3. How can the retention of industrial technology students at MCCC be increased and attrition be decreased? 4. What role can MCCC faculty and graduates of the industrial technology division play in assisting potential dropouts. 5. What successful retention strategies exist elsewhere? 6. What retention strategies would seem to be most appropriate for implementation at MCCC? A case study research methodology was used in this study. In this process. (1) an extensive literature review was conducted to gather information on factors associated with at-risk technical students. (2) an In-depth identification of the present sources at MCCC that either assist or are barriers to retention was outlined, (3) surveys to technology dropouts, faculty members and current students were administered to provide information which may have been unique to technology programs, students or staff at MCCC. (4) enrollment data were collected to report withdrawal patterns in technology courses and a follow-up investigation was conducted to determine each student's academic standing one year later. (5) results of the industrial technology student survey were used to report reasons for initial enrollment as a technology major. (6) survey and interviews with Michigan community college technology administrators were used to obtain information on successful retention efforts, and (7) on-site visits were made to four selected colleges to observe specific retention strategies in action. A number of conclusions were reached as a result of this investigation. First, it was impossible to isolate a single cause for college departure. Secondly, the positive effects of technology student departure may be closely related to employment availability for minimally skilled workers. A third conclusion was that the primary persistence factor may be the student’s identification with those at the college. It was also concluded that no simple solutions exist for high attrition, however. improvement is possible through systematic, targeted approaches. One feature which was concluded to be present in nearly all successful programs was some form of special counseling. Further, it was concluded that successful retention programs were conducted without the need for large financial increases in operating expenses. The final conclusion supported the need for a retention program to facilitate the academic success of Monroe County Community College’s technology students. Suggested recommendations were the following (1) that the proposed retention program be adopted and implemented; (2) that the approach of retention be preventive rather than predictive: (3) that the goal be on education rather than merely retaining students; (4) that the present barriers to potential dropouts be addressed; (5) that the program be a holistic, collaborative venture which is visible at all levels of the institution: (6) that ongoing research and evaluation of the program be instituted: and (7) that the program becomes a catalyst for ethers to increase their retention efforts. The final product of this developmental case study was the design of Operation Facilitating Academic Success in Technology (FAST). Specific goals. objectives, components, responsibilities. and costs are included. In addition, an implementation plan and evaluation system are identified.