Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)

Program

Educational Leadership

Date of Award

5-2016

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jasmine Renner

Committee Members

Catherine Glascock, James Lampley, Elizabeth Likis-Werle

Abstract

Data from the National Center for Education Statistics projects total enrollment in post secondary degree-granting institutions to increase 15% from 2010 to 2021 (U.S. Department of Education, 2012). National and state education efforts such as President Obama’s American Graduation Initiative, Tennessee’s Drive to 55, and Tennessee Promise encourage Americans to expand their educational pursuits in order to increase the number of individuals completing a post secondary degree. As states adopt funding formula measures tied directly to student success and retention, higher education institutions increasingly must rely on the effectiveness of academic and student service programs. Although the employment of adjunct faculty as a cost-saving measure has been on the rise for many years (Kezar & Maxey, 2013), research regarding the possible impact on student learning has been slow to develop and studies in this area have produced contradictory results.

The purpose of this quantitative comparative study was to examine whether there is a significant difference in the fall to fall retention rate and proportion of assigned grades for first- time freshmen attending Motlow State Community College (MSCC) in regard to instructor status (full-time or adjunct). Existing data were used to conduct the study gathered from instructor and student information maintained by the colleges Banner information system using stratified random sampling. A non proportional sampling technique was chosen because of the potential small sample size and ease of subgroup comparison. Data were analyzed using chi-square tests of independence at the .05 level of significance.

Results indicated no significant difference in the fall-to-fall retention rate and proportion of assigned grades for first-time, full-time students; first-time students; first-time students with a high school grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher; first-time students with a high school grade point average (GPA) of 2.9 or lower; and traditional and non traditional age students. Significant differences were found in the fall-to-fall retention rate for first-time, part-time students. First-time, part-time students taught by adjunct faculty are retained at a significantly lower rate than first-time, part-time students taught by full-time faculty.

As states adopt funding formula measures tied directly to student success and retention at the same time colleges and universities brace for enrollment increases, the use of adjunct faculty continues to rise. Acknowledging the need for highly skilled instructors, higher education institutions must consider the potential impact adjunct faculty instruction has on student success given the potential implications on institutional funding at state and national levels.

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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