The U.S. higher education system faces an unprecedented convergence of financial challenges that have the potential to negatively affect the operations of smaller institutions (Denneen & Dretler, 2012; Eide, 2018). These forces have increased the expectation for institutions to adopt innovative educational models that will ensure the financial sustainability of the institution. One such innovation is the church-based extension site program at a private, Christian university in the southeastern region of the United States. The extension site program provides affordable pathways to baccalaureate degrees through a combination of experiential learning and classroom experiences within a local church context. The Christian university that was the focus of this study has experienced dramatic enrollment growth since the program's inception, with more than 2,400 students enrolled at 112 locations across the United States. Given the growth of this educational modality, this study evaluated whether the church-based extension site program is an effective alternative to the traditional campus experience. The Thriving Quotient, a reliable and valid instrument that measures students' academic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal well-being (Schreiner, 2016), was utilized to examine the differences in thriving levels and pathways to thriving among extension site and traditional students at the target university. After matching students through propensity score analysis, the results of the univariate and multivariate analyses of variance indicated that extension site students (M = 5.12, SD = .45) reported significantly higher thriving scores than their matched counterparts on the traditional campus ( M = 4.82, SD = .49, F[1, 616] = 62.871, p < .001, η2</super> = .093). Structural equation modeling with multiple-group analysis further indicated significant differences in the pathways to thriving among extension site and traditional students, with each model accounting for 73% and 62% of the variation in college student thriving, respectively. Spirituality, faculty commitment to diverse students, and psychological sense of community represented the largest contributors to extension site student thriving. The study recommends the expansion of the extension site model at Christian institutions as an effective alternative to the traditional experience for a particular group of students and offers implications for practice that will support student thriving within the extension site context.
|Advisor:||Schreiner, Laurie A.|
|Commitee:||Hulme, Eileen E., McIntosh, Eric J.|
|School:||Azusa Pacific University|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 80/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Education finance, Educational evaluation, Religious education, Higher education|
|Keywords:||College student thriving, Disruptive innovation, Experiential learning, Extension sites, Financial sustainability, Student success|
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