An artful perspective: An examination of the self-perceptions of probationary students returning from academic suspension

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Approximately half of students enrolled in public four-year colleges and universities do not persist to graduation within six years (ACT, 2010). Students are struggling and leaving before degree completion for a variety of reasons, including poor academic performance. This study sought to explore the perceptions of students on academic probation of why he or she believed the academic struggle occurred.

This qualitative study focused on probationary students returning from academic suspension. Utilizing a qualitative narrative analysis approach, the researcher studied five students’ essays, mid-semester self-reflections, and final journals written for an academic recovery class. Through the examination of participants’ writing, possible answers to the following research question were explored: What are the self-perceptions of probationary students returning from academic suspension regarding their academic performance?

The analysis of the writings was presented in four parts: 1) the background and character development of the participants, 2) their experiences leading to suspension, 3) their mid-semester performance, and 4) their final thoughts of the course. Each section utilized data interpretation and storytelling to assist in “creating a sense of empathy for research participants,” give additional insight, and help generate new questions for research as a particular experience was seen through a new medium (Glense, 2006, p. 197). Narrative storytelling, ethnodrama, dialogue, and the creation of a transcript of a documentary were utilized in presenting the results. The five students discussed several factors leading to their academic suspension. Among those factors mentioned were difficulty of the degree program, skipping class, poor study habits, procrastination, lack of organization, and family issues. All five students described the academic recovery course as a positive experience. Three students confirmed they were still enrolled the following semester.

Academic suspension, Qualitative study, Postsecondary education, Narrative analysis