The Relationship Between Student Engagement and Institutional Resources at Maryland Community Colleges
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentCommunity College Leadership Program
ProgramDoctor of Education
SubjectsUniversities and colleges
Years of cuts in state support for public two-year and four-year colleges have resulted in rising tuition costs and have damaged the higher educational experience through reductions in faculty, fewer course offerings, and actual campus closings. Funding higher education and using the budget to accommodate competing interests remains a topic of broad concern. Resource allocation is an issue that is at the forefront for most institutions of higher education (Cohen, Brawer, & Kisker, 2014). The delicate balance of allocating shrinking state and local funding along with tuition revenues is especially challenging for community college leaders. The purpose of this quantitative study was to use Kuh’s Theory of Engagement to examine institutional resources and student engagement at Maryland Community Colleges. The explanatory variable, the allocation of institutional resources, was defined as the support budget expenditure categories measured by the 2015 MACC Data Book. These categories are Academic Support, Student Services, and Institutional Support. The outcome variables are the Support for Learners benchmark as defined by the Community College Survey of Student Engagement (CCSSE), and retention and graduation rates from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). This quantitative study was based on secondary survey research. The research design used was an ex post facto design. The College Community College Student Report (see Appendix) is the survey instrument for the CCSSE and is administered to mostly returning students in the spring academic term. The procedure for this study included the analysis of MACC data to explore the relationship among the three categories of allocations of institutional resources, the Support for Learners benchmark in the CCSSE, and retention and graduation rates. The researcher found no relationships among the three categories of allocations of institutional resources and the Support for Learners benchmark. However, there was a weak to moderate positive relationship between the institutional resources and retention rates, in particular part-time rates and graduation rates. These findings provide meaningful information regarding the relationship between resource allocations and student engagement. The results from this study contribute to the existing research on student engagement and resource allocation, and this study presents recommendations to understand institutional practices that help increase student engagement and persist to graduation. Community college leaders need this information, to make informed decisions and focus on the task of addressing roadblocks that hinder efforts to increase student success and engagement through institutional change.