Institutional Factors That Affect Student Satisfaction and Its Implications on Persistence At a Historically Black College and University By: Michalyn C. Demaris EDUL 7613 Qualitative Research Design William Allan Kritsonis, PhD
Success for minority students in higher education has become a critical issue in higher education academia. College and university administrators continue to seek the denotative definition of creating a positive atmosphere that’s supportive in meeting student needs. There are a number of organizational theories that can be utilized to ensure minority student persistence in higher education. In particular, Tinto’s attrition model is among those theories that have been used in an attempt to describe and categorize the student attrition process. By utilizing Tinto’s attrition model administrators will have the ability to identify the institutional factors that affect student satisfaction and implement strategies to ensure student satisfaction and promote student persistence and graduation.
The annual college enrollment rates have generally increased among high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 24 for Blacks, Hispanics, and Caucasian students since the late 1990s. However, only 46% of African Americans and 47% of Hispanics who first enrolled in a four-year institution with the goal of completing a bachelor’s degree, actually completed a bachelor’s degree within six years, compared to the 67% of Caucasians and 72% of Asians.
Six-year bachelor’s degree completion rates are also lower for African Americans and Hispanics than for Caucasians and Asians. As a result of low retention rates among African American and Hispanic students’ on historically black college and university campuses administrators are seeking strategies for minority student retention.
Statement of the Problem
Students on a historically black college and university campus will exemplify satisfaction when institutional factors are supportive in meeting their needs and promote persistence and graduation.
The purpose of the study will be to identify the institutional variables that may have positively contributed to student satisfaction with the college, and if theses variables influenced their decisions to remain or not to remain in college. By utilizing Tinto’s theory of departure, the study will identify the key intuitional factors associated with integration or lack thereof, into the college environment, and how it affects student outcomes. The study will also identify the five major sources of student departure and determine strategies that can be affectively used to increase student satisfaction.
The following assumptions were made in planning and designing the research study:
The influence of institutional factors and reported levels of student satisfaction with those factors, as reported by the students, will be representative of the historically black college and university campus.
The identification and examination of institutional factors will contribute to an increased understanding of the influences that student satisfaction may have in student persistence.
According to Swail, W.S., Redd, K.E., & Perna, L.W. (2003), education has a profound impact on both the individual and society. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, earn twice that of high school graduates and those with a professional degree earn twice what individuals with a bachelor’s.
The authors Feldman, Smart, and Ethington (2004), define Holland’s Theory of Human Behavior as a study that focuses on an assessment of individuals, their environment and the interactions or connection between individuals and their environment. Holland’s Theory of Human Behavior intends to explain vocational behavior, based on the assumptions of the three essential components of the theory that people tend to choose environments compatible with their personality types, environments tend to reinforce and reward different patterns of abilities and interests, and people tend to flourish in environments that are congruent with their dominant personality types.
According to Feldman, Smart, and Ethington (2004), the sociological component or socialization assumption of Holland’s Theory of Human Behavior explains the change and stability of college students’ educational abilities and interests. Irrespective to their dominant personality type a first year freshman student is equally influenced by the prevailing norms and values of the academic environment they select.
Academic environments within the institution are successful in socializing students to their distinctive set of preferred abilities and interests for students with either similar or dissimilar dominant personality types. Seemingly, it is important for a student to select an institution and a major that is congruent with their dominant personality type in order to ensure their success in college and completion of a four year degree.
Campus administrators must ensure that s tudents on a historically black college and university campus exemplify satisfaction. Campus administrators m ust also ensure that the institutional factors are supportive in meeting student needs and promote persistence and graduation. To implement these strategies, senior campus leadership must play two important roles:
Tinto’s Theoretical Model of Student Attrition and Persistence
Tinto’s (1988) theory suggests that students arrive at college with certain expectations and aspirations. The integration or lack thereof, into the college environment, affects student outcomes. The influence of institutional variables, such as faculty-student interaction, peer-group interaction, and extracurricular involvement, helped shape the student’s progression through college. Tinto (1993) also describes three major sources of student departure, academic difficulties, the inability of individuals to resolve their educational and occupational goals, and their failure to become or remain incorporated in the intellectual and social life of the institution (p.176).
The sampling method will be a maximum variation case. Consisting of a focus group of 20 students. The study will examine a cross section of students on various academic levels.
Method of Selection
The participants in the study will be selected utilizing a stratified random selection method based on their enrollment at the university during the fall 2007 and spring 2008 semesters.
Data Collection Format
Data will be collected from the case study by utilizing three data collection methods:
The information gathered from the interviews, questionnaires, and surveys will be translated into a student satisfaction inventory which will be utilized to make recommendations on ways to improve institutional factors related to student satisfaction and its influence on student persistence. The study will investigate the relationship between the level of student satisfaction with their institutional experiences and their social integration.
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