Date of Award

5-2010

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Legacy Department

Career and Technical Education

Advisor

Poston, Cheryl

Committee Member

Flowers , Lamont

Committee Member

Hawkins , Greg

Committee Member

Paige , William

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore the role of Student Support Services (SSS) in encouraging student involvement and its impact on student perceptions and academic experiences in three technical colleges in upstate South Carolina. By
examining Alexander Astin's theory of student involvement in the services provided by the program, a better understanding of the existing functions of SSS may be obtained. The study may offer information to increase knowledge and awareness about the college experience for a diverse group of college students. It is hoped that the study will help to better understand unique experiences of SSS participants and how to create better ways of meeting their needs.
In order to explore the role of SSS qualitative methods were employed to conduct this research within the population of three Student Support Service programs housed in South Carolina's upstate technical colleges. Focus groups were conducted in the spring of 2009 with a total of 100 students. Transcripts of the focus groups were thematically analyzed for this study. Findings revealed evidence that supports Astin's student involvement theory and Tinto's student retention model and the impact that the SSS
Program has on participant student involvement, student perceptions and academic experiences. The impact of involvement is multifaceted because it influences the program participants' certainty of choice of major, helped focus students on attainment of
their goals and careers, willingness to stay in school, and improved overall academic experiences.
In terms of academic experiences, program participants reported high levels of satisfaction with their grade point averages, advising services, improved test scores, cultural enrichment, transferability, confidence, and overall program experiences. In terms of barriers to student success that were discussed, students were much more likely to discuss barriers that were outside of their control, such as the lack of facility space.
Results of this study may contribute to the existing research concerning student involvement in Student Support Services. The findings may be used to help improve services rendered and provide much needed high quality educational programming for academically disadvantaged students. The results may contribute to the understanding of how student perceptions and experiences may impact future policies as well as the restructuring of other academic support programs based on student involvement. This research may also help analyze and identify best practices of upstate South Carolina's Student Support Services program which may be used to benchmark evaluations to assess services provided and program effectiveness.

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