Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Deborah Focarile


The problem addressed in this study was the trend of decrease in first-time-in-college (FTIC) degree-seeking student cohort fall-to-fall (FTF) retention rates at a community college located in a southern state. Reversing the trend of decrease in FTIC FTF retention rates requires determining factors that may have influenced the trend. Researchers have found instructor employment status and gateway course success may influence student achievement and therefore can affect student retention. At the research site, most FTIC students take first-year-composition (FYC), the gateway English course for most community colleges, from adjuncts. The purpose and research question of the study were to determine if statistically significant differences existed in FYC semester course grades among FTIC degree-seeking students who took FYC from adjuncts compared to full-time faculty members at the research site. Communities of practice was the theoretical foundation in this causal comparative design. Proportional stratified random sampling was used to select 200 FTIC degree-seeking students from each of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 cohorts. A two-way analysis of covariance indicated statistically significant differences in FYC semester course grades existed based on FYC instructor employment status while controlling for student enrollment status and academic ability. Ideally, positive social change will be realized through enhanced institutional efforts to support FYC adjunct faculty, which in turn may lead to increased retention rates, resulting in a greater number of students who are empowered and equipped to positively influence future generations.