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Title: Retention of students : challenges threatening part-time non-traditional undergraduate students in Jamaica
Author: Mitchell Jarrett, Donna
ISNI:       0000 0004 9359 0651
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2020
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The purpose of this phenomenological research was to identify issues which part-time non-traditional undergraduate students face as they strive to be retained in higher education. The voices, aspirations, emotions, and decisions of the students in addition to the perspectives of a dean, lecturers and a registrar were used to gain a deeper understanding of what the students faced and how they persisted. This research was guided by Tinto's (1975, 1987, 1993) Academic and Social Integration Theory and Astin's (1984, 1999, 2014) Development Theory of Student Involvement. These longitudinal theories are dynamic and assess students' retention decisions in a holistic manner as they interact with the academic and social systems of their institutions, thereby giving credence to this study. A triangulation of data from the three groups of participants was used to confirm and cross-validate findings within the study. Triangulation as purported by Groenewald (2004), is an important process which provides a true insight of the phenomenon under investigation. Interviews were used to collect data from 16 students, (six in face-to-face interviews and 10 in focus group), one dean, five lecturers and one registrar. Results from the interviews present compelling evidence that the challenges faced by the students as they study can be the determining factor for their decision to leave or stay until course completion in higher education. The findings identified that the part-time undergraduate non-traditional students face issues such as financial difficulties, lack of academic support, lack of quality feedback, uncomfortable learning environment, lack of social programmes which could enhance social integration and feeling disconnected to their institution. Some of these challenges, especially the environmental, could be prevented if the institution and students' support system supported the interest of the students better. From these findings of the study emerged suggestions for relevant policy and practice implications and recommendations for future research. The study suggests that the administrators plan and collaborate with stakeholders effectively for the students as they should be included in the decision-making process of the institution. In short, the recruitment process should enable a smooth transition for the students, there should be reliable support services and contact with the administrators through the offices of an established evening administrative staff. Students should be provided with the opportunity of participating in social programmes though the innovative creation of modules geared towards social interactions. Finally, the modules for the students should be revised at least every five years in order to incorporate the demands of the market. This should result in enhanced students' empowerment, motivation to persist and eventually retention until course completion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ed.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral