Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Date of Defense

7-9-2014

Graduate Advisor

Thomas R. Schnell, Ph.D.

Committee

Richard Rosenfeld

Kent A. Farnsworth

Kathleen M. Haywood

Abstract

Much community college research suggests that student engagement enhances academic performance and persistence, yet there has been little research that has focused on the impact of student engagement in the growing area of extended campus sites. The purpose of this mixed method study was to compare student engagement levels between the main campus and the extended site of three community colleges. The quantitative portion of this study explored significant differences between the sites based on variables in the 2011 Community College Survey for Student Engagement (CCSSE) survey. Then, through 13 semi-structured interviews, the qualitative portion examined the perceptions of extended site faculty and staff. Findings indicated that extended campus sites and their students experienced greater student engagement than anticipated. The null hypotheses of differences among the engagement variables by campus location were partially rejected. Statistically significant differences were found for the following composite variables: active and collaborative learning, student effort, and student & faculty interaction. There were no significant differences for academic challenge or support for learners. Interview data from site administrators and instructors from the three extended campus sites offered insight about student engagement at community college extended campus sites. The core areas identified supported CCSSE Benchmark areas; plus, discussed the roles that faculty and facilities have on student engagement at extended campus sites. This study suggests that students at extended campus sites may feel more connected to each other and to their faculty than to college facilities or programs. The findings from this study lend strong support to theories of engagement offered by Tinto, Austin and others who maintain that connections are the key element. This study also suggests three institutional conditions to attain higher levels of engagement at community colleges which support extended campus sites: (1) communication, interactions and relationships, (2) integration of student support and academics, and (3) extended campus development. In summary, administrators at community colleges may want to consider that community college engagement is less about specific support services, activities, and extra-curricular events, and more about ensuring that the facilities, services and programs are provided to connect students to each other and to faculty.

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Education Commons

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