Title

Stopout Students: At-Risk Students in Community Colleges

First Presenter's Institution

Bainbridge State College

Second Presenter's Institution

Valdosta State University

Third Presenter's Institution

Valdosta State University

Fourth Presenter's Institution

Valdosta State University

Fifth Presenter's Institution

Valdosta State University

Location

Harborside East & West

Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Relevance

At-risk Students are confronted with barriers to college completion. Colleges are being pressured to increase graduation rates (Dougherty et al., 2010) as higher education funding is changing from enrollment funding to completion funding (Complete College America, 2014). In turn, college administrators are recommended to recruit and retain stopout students. Understanding the experiences of at-risk stopout students through this research will help identify strategies that support efforts by colleges to increase at-risk student retention and graduation rates.

This proposal links the issue of low college retention rates among at-risk students and the critical need to create well funded positive teaching and learning college environments that may increase student satisfaction levels and graduation rates. This presentation will address this need and participants will gain both insights and strategies based on research to more effectively address the needs of students at-risk of dropping out of college.

Brief Program Description

College administrators are examining their policies and strategies for and retaining at risk-stopout students to meet the changing funding models for higher education. New research on student retention will provide valuable data for colleges to develop intentional strategies that encourage at-risk stopout students to return to college and increase college retention rates.The researchers will share these findings and in turn share important insights and techniques for improving students’ college experiences.

Summary

In summary, this study empowered six at-risk stopout students to voice their day-to-day experiences returning to community college with the goal to understand the experiences of at-risk stopout students and identify strategies used by one community college to improve college retention of stop out students. Participants identified four major themes that characterized their experiences. First, they were motivated to return to college by their desire to advance professionally. Second, they reported how they overcame. Finally, their success depended on the support received from family and peers, and the availability of a college offering flexible adult focused programs. College administrators are encouraged to remove existing institutional barriers such as policy and procedures in order to assist at-risk students transitioning back to college.Participants in this presentation will be provided with study results and implications for administrators and stopout students. They will also receive practical administrative recommendations on how to create a positive college environment that value the unique needs of at-risk stopout students. Handouts of specific data collection procedures and analysis will be shared. The results of this study have been validated diligently by the dissertation committee members and checked for researcher bias. The audience will have the opportunity to interact with persons with different perspectives gaining a broader objective balanced view of the insights and knowledge gained from the study. In addition, participants will have an opportunity to ask questions directly to the researchers once the conference is over. Further more, participants will be encouraged to contact the researchers to discuss possibilities of transferring results of this study to address student retention problems in their own colleges upon return to their work sites.

Evidence

Struggles encountered by students at-risk of dropping out of college inspired this study. The research process focused on the meanings constructed by a purposefully selected sample of six at-risk stopout students. Data was inductively sought to understand the complexity of the students’ experiences. An interpretive worldview provided the researcher with an emic perspective to understand the experiences of at-risk stopout students returning to college from the students’ perspectives.

Similar studies have used an administrator perspective to determine how students leave college when they do not have consistent interactions with people who have similar values, or their failure to fit into the current social systems. However, few studies have provided a student view of the lived college experiences of at-risk stopout students. Previous studies examining institutional influences on stopout students concluded that students are more likely to grow academically and socially and continue their education when their attributes and the institution’s environment are congruent (Spady, 1971).

Students’ decision to leave college is based on how their academic potential, normative congruence, grade performance, intellectual development, and the support from friends interact with their level of satisfaction and perceived institutional commitment. Basic interpretive research provides an analytical lens through which college administrators may better understand the experiences of at-risk stopout students and improves learning environments that support students and increase graduation rates.

This timely study provides student nuanced voices to be used for reducing the risk of students dropping out of college, and overall college environment that impacts student achievement.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Sam Mayhew is the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Bainbridge State College in Georgia.

Dr. Bill Truby is an Assistant Professor at Valdosta State University in the Department of Educational Leadership. He is a retired professional educator with 43 years of experience: teacher, coach, assistant principal, associate principal, athletic director, head master, adjunct professor and school system superintendent for 8 years in Lamar County, GA. He has lead start-up schools and low-achieving schools and districts to higher levels of success and new standards of excellence. He has authored 2 books and has provided columns on education for newspapers for years. He has been a sought-after speaker throughout his career on a variety of topics, especially those dealing with leadership, motivation, and ethics.

Dr. Lantry L. Brockmeier is a Professor in the Department of Curriculum, Leadership, and Technology at Valdosta State University. His professional experiences include being a middle school health educator, high school Biology teacher, evaluator, and psychometrician for a statewide testing program. Dr. Brockmeier's research interests include educational measurement, and research.

Dr. Mike Bochenko is an Assistant Professor at Valdosta State University and has been a member of the Educational Leadership as both an adjunct instructor and graduate faculty member since June 2011. Prior to joining the VSU staff, Dr. Bochenko served as an Education Specialist with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. A retired PK-12 educator, Dr. Bochenko worked as superintendent, assistant superintendent, high school principal, guidance counselor, and English teacher.

Dr. Gerald Seigrist is a professor in the Department of Curriculum, Leadership, and Technology at Valdosta State University. His professional experiences include being head of the Department of Leadership and Program coordinator since 1996. Dr. Seigrist’s served as professor of Education at the University of Fayetteville in Arkansas. Dr. Seigrist’s research interests include educational leadership and school improvement.

Keyword Descriptors

Retention, At-risk sudents, Graduation, Institutional barriers, Stopout students, college environment

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-7-2017 4:00 PM

End Date

3-7-2017 5:30 PM

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Mar 7th, 4:00 PM Mar 7th, 5:30 PM

Stopout Students: At-Risk Students in Community Colleges

Harborside East & West

College administrators are examining their policies and strategies for and retaining at risk-stopout students to meet the changing funding models for higher education. New research on student retention will provide valuable data for colleges to develop intentional strategies that encourage at-risk stopout students to return to college and increase college retention rates.The researchers will share these findings and in turn share important insights and techniques for improving students’ college experiences.