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ERIC Number: ED520487
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 79
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 61
Critical Junctures in Community College Student Progress
Michalowski, Sam
Association for Institutional Research (NJ1), Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association for Institutional Research (50th, Chicago, IL, May 29-Jun 2, 2010)
Existing research demonstrates a strong relationship between the prevalence of irregular enrollment patterns among community college students and their low rates of degree attainment (Adelman 2006; Bahr 2009; Berkner et al. 2000; Goldrick-Rab 2004, 2007; Horn and Nevill 2006). However, very little is known about the features and processes that shape community college students' enrollment patterns--and their academic engagement, in general. To generate more foundational understanding of these issues as they pertain to outcomes, an interview study was conducted with 55 continuing and former students of a large urban community college. Employing a grounded theory approach (Charmaz 2006; Glaser and Strauss 1967), systematic analysis of interview transcripts along with administrative data revealed that interviewees' decisions to attend part-time, stop-out for one or more semesters or leave college altogether were shaped at critical junctures where demands from family, health and work life-realms intersected with their academic difficulties and challenges. Interviewees' differential life experiences, interpersonal skills and socially-based resources contributed to or protected against academic disengagement in varying and revealing ways during critical junctures. Moreover, nontraditional interviewees' success in life-tasks outside of college (e.g., working, child-rearing, immigrating) was found to play a significant role in decision-making during critical junctures. The self-esteem garnered through life-task success either helped them rationalize abandoning their educational goals when faced with academic difficulties as these threatened their self-esteem; or, it influenced optimistic cognitive strategies to manage these threats and to persevere through critical junctures. Presented are implications for community colleges in terms of policies and interventions to address academic disengagement and directions for future institutional research. Appendices include: (a)Tables and Diagrams; and (b) Interview Protocol. (Contains 8 tables, 1 diagram and 27 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Association for Institutional Research