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- An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Institutional Policies and Practices of Community and Technical Colleges in Texas on Student Persistence in Online Courses
- Online education is the fastest growing form of course delivery of higher education in the United States. It has revolutionized how students and instructors interact in the educational process. Yet students in online courses continue to experience higher attrition rates than their counterparts in traditional face-to-face classes despite the advantages offered by the technology. This study examined the impact that institutional policies and practices at community colleges in the state of Texas have had on student persistence in online courses. It also examined how institutions collect and use data in addressing students' attrition. The findings were used to identify the most effective institutional practices to share with community college systems in Texas in an effort to improve student persistence in online courses across the state. The population for the study consisted of the 50 public two-year community college and the technical college systems in the state of Texas. The study used a mixed method. A theoretical model of institutional impact on online persistence was drawn from the literature review. This model's five categories were then used to construct a survey to collect data on institutional practices and measure the effectiveness in addressing student persistence. Four college systems were identified using the survey data that best met the five categories. Interviews were then conducted at these four college systems to produce case studies of these institutions' practices and experiences with online persistence. The results highlighted the roles that institutions play in promoting student persistence in online programs. They revealed differences in the ways institutions define and track student success in online programs and the difficulty these differences pose in comparatively evaluating various institutions' programs. Results lent support to the theoretical model of institutional impact on online persistence that was developed for this study, and results yielded a proposed list of promising practices to enhance student persistence in online programs in public two-year community and technical colleges.
- A Mixed Method Analysis of Undergraduate Student-run Public Relations Firms on U.S. College Campuses
- Student-run public relations firms are part of collegiate public relations pedagogy, and this study used a mixed-method approach to analyze such firms on U.S. campuses. A listing of campuses with student-run firms was created as part of this study. Through an online survey questionnaire, advisers from 55 of the 119 student-run firms provided data about firm characteristics and observations about student learning and career development. Multiple correspondence analyses was used to see if the firms grouped into clusters and somewhat aligned with previous research by Lee Bush in 2009. Firms clustered into four groups, with the fourth group representing a mix of the other three. One additional finding was that firm characteristics are more similar than dissimilar even when comparing firms of varying years in operation. Analysis of variance to compare characteristics between different types of firms revealed that one type of firm tended to employ students at a higher average number of hours per week (F = 6.61, eta squared=0.16) and one was more likely to be accredited by the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (F = 3.71, eta squared=0.13). Advisers reported mostly positive reflections on observed transformations they see in their student workers and the value of the firm experience including how it helps students in post-graduation job attainment. Responses to a graduate questionnaire is included but, because of low response rate (N = 6), provided only cursory information.