Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Thomas G. Reio Jr.

First Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Glenda Musoba

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Co-Committee Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Joanne Sanders-Reio

Fourth Advisor's Name

Joan Wynne

Keywords

Undergraduate, Early Warning Systems, Administrators' Perceptions, Students' Experiences, Retention Services

Date of Defense

7-3-2013

Abstract

Institutions have implemented many campus interventions to address student persistence/retention, one of which is Early Warning Systems (EWS). However, few research studies show evidence of interventions that incorporate noncognitive factors/skills, and psychotherapy/psycho-educational processes in the EWS. A qualitative study (phenomenological interview and document analysis) of EWS at both a public and private 4-year Florida university was conducted to explore EWS through the eyes of the administrators of the ways administrators make sense of students’ experiences and the services they provide and do not provide to assist students. Administrators’ understanding of noncognitive factors and the executive skills subset and their contribution to retention and the executive skills development of at-risk students were also explored. Hossler and Bean’s multiple retention lenses theory/paradigms and Perez’s retention strategies were used to guide the study. Six administrators from each institution who oversee and/or assist with EWS for first time in college undergraduate students considered academically at-risk for attrition were interviewed.

Among numerous findings, at Institution X: EWS was infrequently identified as a service, EWS training was not conducted, numerous cognitive and noncognitive issues/deficits were identified for students, and services/critical departments such as EWS did not work together to share students’ information to benefit students. Assessment measures were used to identify students’ issues/deficits; however, they were not used to assess, track, and monitor students’ issues/deficits. Additionally, the institution’s EWS did address students’ executive skills function beyond time management and organizational skills, but did not address students’ psychotherapy/psycho-educational processes.

Among numerous findings, at Institution Y: EWS was frequently identified as a service, EWS training was not conducted, numerous cognitive and noncognitive issues/deficits were identified for students, and services/critical departments such as EWS worked together to share students’ information to benefit students. Assessment measures were used to identify, track, and monitor students’ issues/deficits; however, they were not used to assess students’ issues/deficits. Additionally, the institution’s EWS addressed students’ executive skills function beyond time management and organizational skills, and psychotherapy/psycho-educational processes.

Based on the findings, Perez’s retention strategies were not utilized in EWS at Institution X, yet were collectively utilized in EWS at Institution Y, to achieve Hossler and Bean’s retention paradigms. Future research could be designed to test the link between engaging in the specific promising activities identified in this research (one-to-one coaching, participation in student success workshops, academic contracts, and tutoring) and student success (e.g., higher GPA, retention). Further, because this research uncovered some concern with how to best handle students with physical and psychological disabilities, future research could link these same promising strategies for improving student performance for example among ADHD students or those with clinical depression.

Identifier

FI13120909

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