Examining the effects of contextual factors on students' educational outcomes: a special focus on community colleges Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Mercado, Micaela
    • Affiliation: School of Social Work
  • This dissertation examines the college experience of traditional-age community college students. The objectives of this dissertation are threefold. To explain early exits from higher education, the first manuscript integrates Tinto's interactionalist theory and Coleman's theory of social capital to describe the mechanisms through which informal and formal structures (e.g., study groups, programs, services) found in community colleges affect academic performance, engagement, and persistence. The second manuscript empirically tests the relationship between two of Tinto's theoretical constructs, academic and social integration, and student educational outcomes with a nationally representative sample of traditional-age community college students and further examines the association between the community college context and educational outcomes using multilevel modeling. The final manuscript tests the impact of community-based learning programs on students' engagement and academic performance. To test the effect of these programs, propensity score methods are used to create equivalent treatment and comparison groups. Taken together, these analyses provide important information on community college students and their college experiences. Manuscript I reviews the current state of knowledge regarding early exit from higher education and points out ways in which current theoretical frameworks used in this field of study can be enhanced. Subsequent analyses show the importance of students' pre-college characteristics to college persistence, the impact of college experiences on outcomes, and the role of institutional characteristics commonly used for preventing attrition from community college. Taken together, these three manuscripts help advance our understanding of persistence in community college by examining the context in which students learn. These analyses create a foundation for intervention development as well as future practice and policy research.
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  • In Copyright
  • ... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Social Work.
  • Chapman, Mimi
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

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