Document Type



Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Greg Dubrow

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Helen Ellison

Third Advisor's Name

Paulette Johnson

Fourth Advisor's Name

Janice R. Sandiford

Date of Defense



Nontraditional students differ from traditional students on characteristics such as age, employment status, marital status, and parental status. The quality of a student's experience is important as it relates to his or her transformation and is a reflection of the quality of the college.

Using theory of involvement as a framework, the purpose of this study was to test if there were differences between traditional and nontraditional undergraduate students in their ratings of quality of college involvement (academic, co-curricular, student interactions, and faculty interactions) and perceptions of college contribution toward development (intellectual, personal, social, and career). A two part survey was distributed to a random cluster sample of sophomore and higher level undergraduate classes equaling 400 undergraduate students.

Results of a 2 X 4 repeated measures ANOVA indicated that traditional students rated quality for co-curricular involvement and student involvement significantly higher than nontraditional students. Both traditional and nontraditional students had similar ratings of college contribution toward development. There were different patterns of correlations between involvement and development. Traditional students' ratings of academic and student involvement were more highly correlated with development than were the ratings of nontraditional students. However, nontraditional students' ratings of academic and faculty involvement were more highly correlated with development. When testing for differences in correlations between quality of involvement and college contribution toward development, the largest observed differences were quality of student involvement and college contribution toward personal and social development. Although not significantly different, traditional students had stronger correlations between those factors than did the nontraditional students.

This research demonstrates the importance of using social role when defining student type. It contributes to involvement theory by explaining how traditional and nontraditional students differ in their ratings of quality of involvement. Further, it identifies different patterns of correlations between ratings of quality of involvement and college contribution toward development for the two types of students. While traditional students may need a more rounded college experience that includes more social and co-curricular experiences, nontraditional students use the classroom as their stage for learning.





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