Uploaded by Rhonda Gabovitch

AACC Poster 48 x 96 2-18-15A

Helping Part-time Community College Students Succeed
Rhonda M. Gabovitch, Ed.D..
Bristol Community College – Fall River, MA
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Community college graduation rates are low for full-time
entering degree/certificate-seeking students. After 6 years, 40%
of students do not earn a credential/persist. Graduation rates
are lower for students who enroll consistently part-time with
75% failing to earn a credential within 6 years. Qualitative
research methods were used to identify supports and
impediments to student success. Findings: COMMUNICATION,
especially between academic/student affairs, was central to
student success. Campuses operated without distinctions being
made between full- and part-time students. Student
engagement/sense of belonging predominantly took place in
the classroom. Faculty professional development opportunities
re: part-time students was important.
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Qualitative approach: open-ended questions explored “how” and “why”
certain phenomena occur (Yin, 2003). This study focused on gaining an
understanding of the experiences of part-time students at community
colleges and required in-depth information from multiple audiences
(Corbin & Strauss, 2008; Patten, 2005; Stake, 1995), including students,
faculty, and administrators. The study consisted of two New England
community colleges.
This in-depth research examined the part-time student
experience through the lenses of administrators, full-time and
adjunct faculty, and new part-time students, students nearing
graduation, and students who had left their respective
institutions. It is unique and innovative in its multi-faceted
qualitative approach. This research is relevant to the national
discussion of improving graduation rates of community college
students, particularly the rates of the approximately 60% of the
community college population that attends college on a parttime basis.
Recommendations and Conclusions
Case study method: “A qualitative case study provides an in-depth study
of this ‘system,’ based on a diverse array of data collection materials,
and the researcher situates this system or case within its larger ‘context’
or setting” (Creswell, 2007, p. 244).
Multiple case study design. While some multiple case studies involve
several institutions, Yin (2003) argued that as few as two institutions
could constitute a multiple case study. He asserted that findings from two
studies would lead to greater levels of generalizability than would
findings from only one case study.
The Offices of Institutional Research provided worksheets with
information on classes that enrolled large numbers of part-time students
(new and nearing graduation) in classes that met at all three time
periods – days, nights, and weekends.
Current Students: CHALLENGES: Some students who met criteria were
too busy or lacked interest in participating. Due to attrition and increased
schoolwork during the semester, it became difficult to recruit students
from certain sections as the semester went on.
Students No Longer at Institution: CHALLENGE: Some students had
transferred to schools out of state and it was difficult to reach them.
Many phones had been disconnected. Some students no longer felt a
connection to the institution and chose not to participate.
Administrators: They were extremely willing to participate in the study.
Scheduling interviews, however, proved to be a challenge in some
cases, due to these individuals’ busy schedules. Nonetheless, all
interviews were completed.
Full-time and Adjunct Faculty: CHALLENGE: Adjunct faculty were a bit
more difficult to recruit. Two out of three at one institution finally did
participate. Two full-time faculty at the other institution participated as did
two adjunct faculty.
Gabovitch, Rhonda M., "Institutional Conditions to Improve the Educational Outcomes of Parttime Community College Students" (2014). Graduate Doctoral Dissertations.
Paper 160.