Technology usage is increasing important for community college students, but whether nontraditional students differ from traditional students in technology usage and support was unclear. Further, it was not known whether Nontraditional and Traditional community college students feel equally connected to the college when sing social networking software for school purposes.
A large percentage of students attending community colleges have characteristics that may negatively influence their persistence in college. These at-risk characteristics include receiving a GED (General Education Development test) or not completing high school, delaying postsecondary enrollment, being financially independent of one's parents, being a single parent, having dependents other than a spouse, attending college part-time, and working full-time. Students who possess one or more of these characteristics are categorized as nontraditional students.
However, nontraditional students cannot be lumped into one grouping. Using Horn's nontraditional definition, students are considered minimally nontraditional if they have one characteristic, moderate if they have two to three, and highly nontraditional if they have four or more. The more at-risk characteristics a student has, the less likely they will persist in college. Retention activities geared toward nontraditional students is extremely challenging. Emerging technologies in the form of social networking and course management tools may be a means to engage nontraditional students that are preoccupied with preexisting obligations and time constraints.
The purpose of the study was to investigate whether traditional and nontraditional students use social networking and course management tools differently and explored group differences in student-faculty interaction and support for learners within the context of emerging technology usage.
This study utilized the 2009 California subset of Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE) and technology supplemental. Twelve Californian community colleges participated in the survey, totaling 9712 respondents. Data were analyzed with ANOVA to contrast traditional and nontraditional groups, and using simple correlation to determine the relationship between technology use and both student-faculty interaction and support for learners. Differences and relationships were considered statistically significant at a threshold of p < .05.
The findings suggest that emerging technology usage differed between traditional and nontraditional students, such that highly nontraditional students use technology less overall and less for classroom use. Traditional students use course management significantly less than nontraditional students.
Moreover, technology use was inversely related with student-faculty interaction, such that the higher the technology usage, the lower the student-faculty interaction. This pattern was evident across traditional and nontraditional student categories. Additionally, technology use was inversely related with support for learners, such that the higher the technology usage, the lower the student support. This pattern was evident across traditional and nontraditional student categories. Lastly, exploratory analyses suggest that when connected via social networking, traditional and nontraditional groups feel equally connected. Combined these findings suggest that emerging technologies in the form of social networking and course management tools may be a form of engagement that community colleges can utilize in the retention of nontraditional students.
|Advisor:||Murray, John P.|
|School:||California State University, Long Beach|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||DAI-A 73/02, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Community college education, Educational leadership, Adult education, Educational technology|
|Keywords:||California, Emerging technologies, Engagement, Nontraditional students|
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