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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: DeAnna R. Burt
Doctor of Philosophy
Department: Educational Leadership, Research and Technology
Title: African-American Student Retention: A Study of the Effects of an Intrusive Advising Intervention at a Career College
Dr. Andrea Beach, Chair
Dr. Donna Talbot
Dr. Bradford Winkler
Date: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
3009 WMU Beltline Campus
This case study integrates mixed methodologies to examine the retention effects of an “intrusive advising” intervention using two groups of at-risk, first-time, first-year, African American students enrolled in a predominantly-White, career (“proprietary”) college. By design, the study uses data from mixed sources to respond to the overarching research question, “How does intrusive advising influence the retention of African American students who are at risk of attrition?”
Quantitative data is collected and analyzed using a quasi-experimental research design methodology. Qualitative data is collected and analyzed from focus groups, personal interviews, and field notes as a means to provide deeper understanding of the researchable problem than either research approach can accomplish in isolation from the other. In the context of this study, the quasi-experimental design seeks (a) to determine to what extent a difference in retention exists between two groups of students—one receiving “intrusive advising” (the treatment) and the other exposed to a standard advising practice of the college; and, (b) if a difference exists, to determine how much of the variance between the two groups can be explained by the intrusive advising intervention. In review of the descriptive statistics, retention differences are observed. Additional analysis, however, reveals no statistically significant differences between the groups. Grade point average and attendance are found to be strong predictors of retention.
The qualitative methods adopted for this case study rely on conversations with a subset of students (from each group) who are invited to interview and focus group sessions. These sessions are designed to capture students’ descriptions of their first year experiences in relation to their goals for attending this institution of higher education; their conversations include descriptions of their interactions with their academic advisors.
Results from these qualitative conversations present compelling evidence regarding the importance they place on the value of the intrusive advising relationship in the context of their ability to persist. Taken together, results from all data sources informing this case study confirm the merits of the procedural and policy recommendations offered to this career college seeking to support its at-risk students, including a recommendation to adopt an intrusive model of advising beyond the scope of this study. The results also substantiate broader support recommendations to higher education policy makers seeking to respond to issues of access, retention and persistence.