Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Dan Cernusca

Abstract

Many administrators and faculty within higher education institutions have grappled with identifying and employing effective strategies to facilitate student success and persistence. The current study focuses on assessing nontraditional students' self-efficacy beliefs and their perception of the orientation program at a 2-year continuing education program in a Caribbean nation. The study is important as the findings have the potential to increase nontraditional students' persistence and learning. Bandura's social cognitive theory and the theory of self-efficacy served as the theoretical frameworks of this sequential mixed-methods design study. The quantitative research questions examined the reported self-efficacy levels of 77 participants and nonparticipants in the orientation program. The qualitative research questions focused on 10 nontraditional students' perceptions of how the orientation program they participated in impacted their ability to complete and succeed in their course of study. A survey that combined 2 preestablished instruments was used in the quantitative phase and follow-up face-to-face interviews for the qualitative phase of the study. A ttest analysis showed no statistically significant difference between the self-efficacy of participants and nonparticipants in the focal orientation program. A pattern coding of the interviews revealed 5themes from the qualitative phase, ranging from nontraditional students' challenges to self-efficacy and persistence in the program. A policy recommendation in the form of a white paper was used to convey the findings of this study to the major stakeholders at the target institution. The recommendations from the study may contribute to positive social change as they can improve nontraditional students' performance, increase completion rates at the institution, and positively impact economic growth of the wider community.