Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Dr. Ramo Lord

Abstract

Vocational and career training institutes focus their energy and resources on student support services, increasing student retention as it relates to minority populations. Despite these efforts, a specific vocational and career institute in the southeast United States reports a 50% retention rate of students who are enrolled. This case study explored students' descriptions of how self-efficacy supported their perseverance while attending the vocational and career training institute. The conceptual framework included Bandura's notions of self-efficacy and Tinto's integration model. Purposeful sampling strategies were used to interview 10 successfully-retained students enrolled in their 4th term or beyond at the vocational and career institute under study. Data analysis included initial and axial coding, leading to category creation and the identification of key themes. The following themes emerged regarding self-efficacy in the form of support and perseverance: clear personal educational expectations, strong social relations, and various external supports. Further, perceived challenges to self-efficacy and perseverance included family problems, sickness, finances, incarceration, homelessness, and deployment, age, and instructor or student issues at the college site. Recommendations included the development and implementation of tailored and focused student support structures to improve student self-efficacy and perseverance at the local site. Implications for positive social change include providing research findings to the local administration, which may increase their understanding of retention issues and ultimately improve student retention.