Student Engagement and Academic Success at a West Virginia Community College

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Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy


Doctor of Education

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Prominent student engagement theorist Nora (2011) cited the assertion that models of student engagement “such as those underlying the National Study of Student Engagement and the Community College Study of Student Engagement, are misspecified due to the lack of incorporation of culturally relevant variables” (p.127). The purpose of this study was to examine Nora’s Reconceptualized Student Engagement Model of 2011 to determine whether all components necessary for student engagement were addressed. This study examined Nora’s (2011) Reconceptualized Student Engagement Model at a community college in West Virginia by investigating differences found in CCSSE student benchmark scores based on gender, age, and ethnicity, and then by relating these benchmarks to academic success (defined as GPA and earned credits). To support this investigation and a subsequent extension of Nora’s (2011) theory, the author utilized ex post facto data from the CCSSE model for 2013-2014 obtained from a community college in West Virginia. The ex post facto data were analyzed using three inferential statistical analyses (analysis of variance, Spearman Rho correlations, and multinomial regressions). Major findings, which identified a deficiency in the Nora (2011) Student Engagement Model, indicated that demographics played a key role in determining engagement and academic success. After comparing the CCSSE data to the Reconceptualized Nora model of 2011, the author proposed that Nora’s Student Engagement Model be expanded to provide for additional demographic factors that add to the knowledge base on student engagement. This enhanced lens facilitates the ability of a West Virginia community college to address engagement and the academic success of its students. By offering a new lens to Nora’s theoretical model, this study also contributes to the body of information that addresses influences on student engagement and student success.