Exploring Sense Of Community And Persistence In The Community College
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
ProgramDoctor of Education
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As concern grows about the level of college completion in the U.S., higher education leaders are seeking ways to help more students attain their educational objectives. This study sought to aid that effort by determining if a theoretical framework of sense of community developed by McMillan and Chavis (1986) influences students' decisions to persist in their academic studies. The study also explored factors thought to enhance sense of community and persistence. Research has found strong links between sense of community and persistence at four-year institutions, but the literature revealed scant evidence of efforts to document such relationship at two-year colleges. Replicating research conducted at a university (Archie, 2006), this quantitative study examined differences in the levels of sense of community among groups of various student characteristics and campus experiences as well as its predictive power in explaining student persistence, as measured by intent to return, along with other correlates known to be predictors of persistence. Conducted at a community college in the U.S. mid-Atlantic region, a survey collected data from 304 first-year students. The results of factor analysis identified three sense of community subscales that differed from the study being replicated. The results of t-tests, ANOVA and correlation analysis revealed significant relationships between sense of community and age, gender, major, race/ethnicity, participation, use of services, learning community membership, and faculty interaction. No significant relationship between sense of community and employment was found. The results of linear regression analysis showed that age, participation, use of services, and faculty interaction were significant predictors of sense of community. The findings of the study suggested that higher rates of intent to return are exhibited by students who were female; of Hispanic race/ethnicity; majored in science/math/engineering and health care; participated in clubs, leadership, athletics, service learning and student activities; attended orientations; utilized mentoring and disability services; and joined learning communities. The results of logistic regression revealed that use of services and all three sense of community subscales were significant predictors of intent to return.