Toward theory-based approaches for analyzing and enhancing postsecondary student success
AuthorAxelson, Rick D
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe purpose of this dissertation was to develop a theory-based approach to guide institutional level analyses of student dropout. In constructing this approach, models of student departure were expanded to include a framework for guiding the identification of the student-learning environment mismatches inhibiting student learning and success. This approach was applied to a community college in Southern California, Riverside Community College, with a large and diverse student population. To account for observed variation in degree attainment and transfer rates by age and ethnicity, student-types were developed based on the habitus and capital students possessed at the time of college entry. In the present work, measurement of student-types was based largely on students' initial approach to college attendance, which was viewed as a reflection of the underlying differences in students' habitus and available capital. Five student types were identified: traditional, developing, student-worker, life-job changer, and life-job explorers. These student-types were found to account for age variation in success and much of the variation in success associated with ethnicity. The behavior of transfer students who did not earn an Associate's degree or certificate was not adequately captured with the typology. When "success" was restricted to degree or certificate attainment at RCC, the typology adequately accounted for ethnic variation in success. A common departure model was not able to provide a plausible description of students across ethnic or student-type subpopulations. Relations among students' goals and commitments, institutional integration, and academic integration were found to differ by ethnicity and student-type. Therefore, the impacts of institutional integration, academic integration, and students' goals and institutional commitments on long-term persistence were modelled within student-types. For student-workers and life-job explorers, students' goals and institutional commitments were found to have statistically significant impacts on long-term persistence. The persistence of other student-types was not significantly impacted by institutional factors.
Degree ProgramGraduate College