Title

Factors Leading to Academic Success at a Community College After Scholastic Suspension

Date of Award

2002

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Arthur Southerland

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research

Abstract

The study focused on environmental, social and personal factors contributing to the success of adult students who had demonstrated academic competency after initially experiencing prior college suspension. The researcher reviewed 251 transcripts of students on academic suspension and identified 35 from the original pool who had successfully completed a semester of work with a GPA of 2.0 or greater and had enrolled for the following semester. All 35 received a self-administered questionnaire. A return rate of 65% was achieved after follow-up letters and telephone reminders yielded a final response of 23 completed questionnaires. A sub sample of 15 participants was selected by convenience for in-depth interviews. The researcher evaluated the interviews using narrative theory and identified themes the subjects reported had enabled them to be academically successful. Correlation analysis produced substantial relationships between the use of community college services while experiencing academic difficulty and when achieving academic success. A considerable relationship resulted in the use of counseling services both before and during academic success and to a lesser degree, the use of library both before and during academic success. The themes the majority of interviewees perceived as useful were personal contact from a counselor or faculty member, support from their families and employer, decreased "partying" and avoiding the "wrong crowd". Key events that the student interviewees saw as having a significant beneficial impact were general themes of maturity and changes in personal, family and employment situations. Some of the themes that might be carried into other aspects of their lives were time management and a general increase in responsibility. Almost all the students stressed their experiences of personal contact with faculty and counselors as meaningful. Since economic pressures in education are requiring larger classes and an increase in electronic media, the students' reports on the importance of personal interaction were noteworthy. The key to meeting all these demands is reminding college faculty and staff of the value of positive personal contact and considering the distancing effect electronic media may have on students.