Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Thomas D. Hadley

Abstract

This study explored the problem of student attrition in beginning courses of an Intensive English Program (IEP) that may affect the sustainability of the IEP. The purpose of the study was to understand the perceptions of continuing students and the factors that influenced their motivation and engagement to persist studying in the IEP. Constructivism and behavioral social learning theory guided this study. The research problem addressed the need for students to remain in IEPs and achieve second language acquisition. The research questions were designed to learn what instructional approaches motivated and engaged participants to persist in successive introductory courses. A qualitative case study design, guided by interpretive epistemology, was used to collect students' opinions, perceptions, and suggestions on their experiences in their first course. The target population was beginners in a second IEP course at a community college. A purposive sample of 16 participants took part in 2 focus groups, individual interviews, and open-ended surveys for data triangulation. Constant comparative analysis using open and axial coding was used to aggregate data themes for inquiry. The findings revealed that poor student engagement, lack of mentorship qualities in instructors, and little inclusion of technology have been persistent reasons for their dissatisfaction. The project, a collaborative professional development effort, was designed for IEP instructors to gain awareness on past and current research about the andragogical framework of student-centeredness which culminated with the cooperative elaboration of a set of best practices. The social impact of the study comes from benefits that sustainable IEP programs could offer to communities with large populations of immigrants and to international visitors to empower them to achieve immersion into English-speaking societies.