Date of Graduation

8-2012

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

John W. Murry

Committee Member

George S. Denny

Second Committee Member

Carleton R. Holt

Abstract

One of the most significance social challenges facing the United States is increasing the number of students entering postsecondary education and having them persist to degree completion. To accomplish this undertaking, more first-generation college students must matriculate and find academic success. Considerable research exists concerning the barriers first-generation students must overcome; however, little research exists regarding the benefits of participating in dual and concurrent credit coursework as a way to increase confidence and prepare for the rigors of higher education.

The purpose of this correlational, quantitative, exploratory study was to consider the impact of dual and concurrent credit on the GPA and persistence of full-time, first-generation college students at a land-grant, four-year, research institution. The theoretical framework for the study rested on Tinto's Theory of Academic and Social Integration and Astin's Theory of Involvement. This research design was selected to focus on the predictive relationship between full-time, first-generation college students who completed dual/concurrent credit classes and those who did not. Three research questions were postulated focusing on demographics and first-to-second year GPA and persistence utilizing institutional data.

The study included full-time, first generation college students at the University of Arkansas enrolled during a fall semester between 2004 and 2008. Variables considered included: gender, ethnicity, age, ACT scores, and prior credit hours earned. Results revealed that students were more likely to be female, Caucasian, age 19 or younger, and scored an average of 28 on their ACT. An ANCOVA and linear regression, using the demographic variables, reported the variability and numeric impact of dual/concurrent participation on a student's GPA. A logistic regression was calculated to determine dual/concurrent credit's effect on first-generation persistence. A multiple regression found that dual/concurrent credit had a nonsignificant, but positive effect on GPA and a logistic regression found a significant positive effect on retention.

The current study helps fill a gap in the literature by addressing dual/concurrent credit and its impact on first-generation postsecondary students. This research may prove useful to practitioners and policy makers searching for ways to help first-generation students bridge the gap from high school to postsecondary education.

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