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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Serving the nontraditional student: An examination of diverse characteristics and common needs
by Bjordal, Gary Allan, Ed.D., University of South Dakota, 2011, 176; 3487291
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study was to examine the perceived needs of nontraditional students attending the South Dakota University Center for student services and facilities based on the extent to which those students are nontraditional. First, the study described the demographics of the student population of the University Center. Second, the study determined the degree to which university center students are considered nontraditional using Horn and Carroll's (1996) classification system. Third, the study examined the self-reported needs of these students and how they differ based upon the degree to which they are nontraditional.

Data were collected from students with a researcher-designed survey instrument containing both five-point Likert scales and multiple-choice questions. The survey collected demographic data, and queried the students regarding the reasons they chose to attend a university center, barriers they encountered, motivators to accomplish their educational goals, and services they felt would be helpful in the achievement of these goals. The sample for this study was 140 students enrolled at the University Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Analysis of the demographic data indicated a predominantly nontraditional student population at the University Center, with representation in each of the four categories. Significant differences between groups regarding reasons they chose attendance at a university center were found in location, program or course availability, not qualifying for admission elsewhere, and the influence of friends and parents. Motivators that impacted the student groups differently included analysis of the benefits of higher education, setting a good example for their children, and support from parents and spouses or children. Despite the variety in characteristics and life experiences of the students, commonality was found in their need for services. All student groups expressed a strong desire for academic advising, tutoring, financial aid advising, placement services, career planning, and faculty accessibility. Few requested services related to housing, child care, public transportation, or recreation.

Some type of education beyond the secondary level has become essential to securing a fulfilling and economically rewarding career. Nontraditional students face many challenges not experienced by traditional students; therefore they have unique needs. This study provides guidelines to postsecondary institutions to help them deliver services to them in an effective and cost-efficient manner.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Card, Karen A.
Commitee: Avoseh, Mejai B., Baron, Mark, Roach, Lynne
School: University of South Dakota
Department: Educational Administration
School Location: United States -- South Dakota
Source: DAI-A 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education
Keywords: Nontraditional, Nontraditional students, Services, Student, Student services
Publication Number: 3487291
ISBN: 978-1-267-06392-2
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