Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Andrea L. Beach


This casestudy integrates mixed methodologies to examine the retention effects of an "intrusive advising" intervention using two groups of at-risk, first-time, first-year, African American students enrolled in a predominantly-White, career ("proprietary") college. By design, the study uses data from mixed sources to respond to the overarching research question, "How does intrusive advising influence the retention of African American students who are at risk of attrition?"

Quantitative data was collected and analyzed using a quasi-experimental research design methodology. Qualitative data was collected and analyzed from focus groups, personal interviews, and field notes as a means to provide deeper understanding of the researchable problem than either research approach could have accomplished in isolation from the other. In the context of this study, the quasi-experimental design sought (a) to determine to what extent a difference in retention existed between two groups of students—one receiving "intrusive advising" (the treatment) and the other exposed to a standard advising practice of the college; and, (b) if a difference exists, to determine how much of the variance between the two groups could be explained by the intrusive advising intervention.

In review of the descriptive statistics, retention differences were observed.

Additional analysis, however, revealed no statistically significant differences between the groups. Grade point average and attendance were found to be strong predictors of retention. The qualitative methods adopted for this case study relied on conversations with a subset of students (from each group) who were invited to interview and focus group sessions designed to capture students' descriptions of their first year experiences in relation to their goals for attending this institution of higher education. Results from these qualitative conversations present compelling evidence regarding the importance they placed on the value of the intrusive advising relationship in the context of their ability to persist.

Taken together, results from all data sources informing this case study confirm the merits of the procedural and policy recommendations offered to this career college and other higher education policy makers seeking to respond to issues of access, retention and persistence among at-risk student populations.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access