Date of Award

12-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea Beach

Second Advisor

Dr. D. Eric Archer

Third Advisor

Dr. Randy W. Ott

Abstract

Student persistence and retention continues to be a major issue facing most institutions of higher education. With ever more diverse student populations, researchers studied a multitude of groups and sub-groups of students based on ethnicity, sex, socioeconomic status, or age. These studies looked at how these various student groups can be supported and retained. Students who returned to school after having been academically dismissed are one group which has been consistently underreported. Reentry practices remained largely unchanged and still require the student to initiate the process. This phenomenological study examined the experiences of students accepted into the Reclaim the W program, a unique program where the reentry process is university-initiated by inviting a number of dismissed students to reapply and potentially be reenrolled immediately with no requirement to sit out and wait to return. Themes identified from the data both confirmed existing knowledge and presented emerging themes on student retention and persistence. The confirming themes identified were Causes Leading to Academic Dismissal, Reactions to Academic Dismissal, and Factors Contributing to Subsequent Success. Themes presenting new knowledge were Reactions to an Invitation to Reapply and Reactions to No Waiting Period.

This study looked at giving these students a voice regarding their experiences in the hope of benefitting future students who face returning after dismissal. The positive experiences of these students have implications for practice in improving retention and persistence processes aimed at returning academically dismissed students. The expansion of the Reclaim the W Program beyond the original target population shows how it has benefitted returning students at Western Michigan University. One recommendation is for institutions to look beyond standard student-initiated reentry programs and consider university-initiated programs, not limited to simple study skills classes offered over the summer. A recommendation for future research is to look at wider range to institutions who have implemented institution-initiated programs.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access

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