Successful degree completion in American colleges and universities has become a national concern as the United States loses educational ground globally, and seeks to fill the unmet need for an educated workforce. One in five individuals who start their degree at a public, two-year institution complete that degree within three years (Snyder & Dillow, 2015). Less than two in five complete within six years (Shapiro, Dundar, Wakhungu, Yuan, & Harrell, 2015). Minority, first-generation and low-income students complete college at an even lower rate than their less disadvantaged counterparts (Complete College America, 2011; Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008; Rath, Rock, & Laferriere, 2013; Reindl & Reyna, 2011). Completing a degree begins with the successful completion of a course. While course completion is contingent upon a variety of factors (Bean & Metzner, 1985), the literature clearly indicates that faculty teaching methods have an impact on student success (e.g. Hamilton, 2002; Kuh, et al., 2008; McPhail, 2011).
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to explore the relationship between the participation of novice (first-year), full-time technical college faculty in a comprehensive professional development program and the course completion of their disadvantaged students. For the purposes of this study, students were considered disadvantaged if they possessed one or more of the following characteristics: Black or Hispanic, first-generation, or low-income. This represents approximately 50% of the student body at the institution under study. Faculty gender and academic discipline were analyzed for moderating effects.
The study was conducted at a large Midwestern technical college using pre-existing data stored in the college’s data warehouse. A static group comparison research design was used to compare the successful course completion of disadvantaged students (n=4,288) taught by two groups of faculty (n=51): the treatment group, who participated in a mandatory one-year professional development program consisting of 162 hours of orientation, workshops, campus visits, and mentoring; and the comparison group, who participated in a two-day Teacher Bootcamp and campus visits. Binary logistic regression was utilized to determine the relationships, among the variables.
The results of this study found a significant negative relationship between comprehensive professional development of novice technical college faculty and the successful course completion of their disadvantaged students. Faculty gender and academic discipline did not moderate this relationship. The negative relationship found sheds an important light on the unique needs of the disadvantaged student populations most often served by the community and technical colleges. This most vulnerable population of students, unlike their more advantaged counterparts, have a low margin of error when it comes to navigating the rigid structures of higher education. While comprehensive professional development can indeed change teaching practices, practitioners should carefully consider and evaluate the content being taught in a comprehensive program to ensure those teaching practices do not unintentionally become a detriment to disadvantaged student populations.
|Commitee:||Eubank, Roxanne, Kotz, Paul E., McClure, Jack|
|School:||Saint Mary's University of Minnesota|
|School Location:||United States -- Minnesota|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Higher education, Vocational education|
|Keywords:||Disadvantaged students, Faculty development, Novice faculty, Professional development, Technical college, Two-year college|
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