Date of Award

4-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Patricia Reeves

Third Advisor

Dr. Ralph Stutzman

Abstract

Nontraditional Accelerated Degree Completion Programs (ADCPs) became popular in the 1980s at many private, higher education institutions, and involved cohort groups facilitated by core or major professors. There has been little research addressing the effectiveness of a core-professor or multiple-professor approach within ADCPs, or research on how students view their learning experiences under this unique concept. This study therefore examines: (1) the effects of using a core-professor concept within nontraditional ADCPs, and (2) students' experiences under the core-professor and multiple-professor concepts.

Two sources of data were used, as obtained from students who had been involved in an ADCP program at a private, faith-based college in the Midwest. The first involved data from 840 students over a ten-year period, including demographic variables, grade point averages, and the graduation status. The second data source was an online survey in which 174 ADCP students of the original 840 (20.7%) participated.

Controlling for various demographic variables, quantitative results revealed a significant negative relationship between the ADCP students having a core professor (or not) and the students' GPAs. Analyses also revealed a significant positive relationship between students' GPA and graduation status, but no significant relationship was found between having a core professor and graduation status. This suggests a disconnect between the core-professor concept and graduation rates, and that other factors may influence student success.

Survey results indicate core-professor students believe they receive mentorship to a stronger degree than students who had multiple professors, yet the experience of less mentoring for the multiple-professor students did not negatively affect their graduation rate (since it was higher than those of core-professor students). Overall, the research suggests it may be the cohort-group concept, not the core-professor concept, which increases persistence and overall graduation rates.

This study also affirms numerous assumptions concerning adult learning theory, such as: many adult students believe they are self-directed learners, their experiences should be part of the educational process, and ADCP students believe learning should be immediately applicable and problem-centered.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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