Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

August 1998

Abstract

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the learning experiences of nontraditional students enrolled in organizational management and business administration cohort- and study-group programs at four, small, private, church-related, arts-based colleges in Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia. The objective of the study was to examine how cohorts and study groups were implemented at four colleges. In addition, the study explored ways that cohorts and study groups contributed to students' satisfaction and academic performance levels, interpersonal relations, and leadership skills. Three hundred forty-five informants and respondents participated in this study. The subjects included 286 students enrolled in organizational management and business administration programs at four small, private, church-related, arts-based colleges (referred to as A, B, C, and D) that were located in southeastern United States. Using a qualitative research design, the researcher also gathered information by interviewing one pilot focus group, consisting of 5 participants, and four official focus groups, consisting of 25 participants. Through the use of content analysis, information was codified into a questionnaire used to explore students' perceptions of cohorts and study groups. Student questionnaires were hand delivered; thus, 286 students responded, and an 88% return rate resulted. Additionally, information about the effectiveness of cohorts and study groups and structural design and variables of cohorts and study groups was collected through four individual student interviews, In addition, 25 surveys were sent to instructors, and 17 (68%) responded. Four program directors and four employers of students responded to questionnaires, for a return rate of 100%. Based on students' responses, this study reveals that cohorts and study groups increase satisfaction, raise academic performance levels, strengthen interpersonal relations, and enhance leadership skills. Data collected from program directors, instructors, and employers supported the results of the student self-reports. Recommendations were made for a refinement of the instrument, which would request additional quantitative data, and replication of the study at other colleges nationwide. Further recommendations included a more thorough study of employers' attitudes, a comparison of mandatory and voluntary study groups, an investigation of cohort-student dropouts, the benefits of mentoring, the effectiveness of class representatives, use of personality tests to determine study-group membership, and attitudes of college administrators and their support offices and boards toward nontraditional programs.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

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