Date of Conferral

2016

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Stephen Butler

Abstract

As enrollment in U.S. community colleges increased, both the percentage of students successfully completing courses and the percentage of students persisting to their second year decreased. This study focused on the problem of low student course success and persistence rates at a community college. The purpose of the study was to determine whether students who demonstrated engagement behavior by visiting a Center for Academic Success (CAS) either passed more courses, persisted more often, or both, than students who did not visit a CAS. Tinto's engagement theory was the theoretical framework as it postulated that students who interacted with school support services were more successful in college than students who did not. The study was a quantitative comparative design using archival data to evaluate if there were differences between students who visited a CAS and students who did not visit a CAS in terms of course success rates (percentage of courses passed) as well as persistence (continued enrollment) from Spring 2014 to Spring 2015. Group comparisons by independent samples t tests resulted in significantly higher course success (p = .027) among students who visited a CAS (n = 2,059) compared to students who did not visit a CAS (n = 33,414). There were no significant differences in the annual persistence rates between groups of students. The results guided the development of a training program for college employees to entice students to visit the CAS while the college leadership discusses other opportunities to increase persistence. The project may support social change by helping more students pass their courses, therefore benefitting the students, the college, and the community.