The relationship of course scheduling on community college student pass rates, persistence rates, and retention rates



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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of two-day per week classes on community college student success. For the purposes of this study, success is defined as an increase in pass rates, persistence rates, and retention rates. The study institution historically conducted the majority of non-cohort-based courses in one-day-per-week formats only. In spring 2015, the institution moved the majority of daytime classes to a two days per week format in an effort to improve student success. The results of this study can be used by the study institution to modify course scheduling offerings to best meet the needs of its students.
Since the largest higher education enrollment growth is currently occurring in community colleges, community colleges have become a more central focus of persistence, retention, and graduation research in the past decade. These efforts have included reviewing and revising course placement policies and procedures and examining the efficacy of historical pedagogical teaching approaches. Additional student success improvement initiatives have originated in student services. Holistic advising, tutoring, mentoring, and professional development for student services personnel have been found to improve persistence, retention, and completion among community college students, particularly those from traditionally underrepresented populations. Despite the extensive efforts of the study institution to improve persistence, retention, and graduation rates through these traditional methods, student success levels still do not meet institutional or state targets. The spaced learning method of teaching, based on cognitive learning theory, states that shorter, more frequent exposures to new knowledge results in greater learning than longer, less-frequent exposures. Therefore, the present study examined whether two days per week classes result in improved pass rates, persistence rates, and retention rates at the study institution.
Results from this study found that while a significant, positive relationship was found between course scheduling and pass rates, no relationship was found between course scheduling and persistence or retention rates at the study institution. An evaluation of the impact of gender, age, race/ethnicity, degree-seeking status, and number of first-semester completed credit hours revealed that course scheduling significantly impacted the prediction of the pass rates of students. Additionally, course scheduling, gender, current enrollment status, and number of first semester completed credits significantly predicted the retention rates of students. This study produced three practical implications: 1) if institutions do not correctly identify factors that significantly contribute to student pass rates, students may not achieve desired outcomes; 2) if institutions do not fully consider the timelines for evaluation of student outcomes, the potential full benefits of institutional change may not be realized; and 3) if institutions do not frequently and thoroughly evaluate student and institutional factors and their impact on student success, critical changes to those characters may be missed. These implications may assist college administrators who are evaluating class scheduling changes as a potential student success initiative. Therefore, it is recommended that higher education administrators fully evaluate the student demographic characteristics, student educational experiences, and instructor variables for their institutions prior to making significant changes to student success initiatives on their campuses to ensure the greatest chances of success. Additionally, a sufficient timeline for evaluation needs to be considered to ensure enough time is allotted to realize outcomes.



Community colleges, Persistence rates, Retention rates, Pass rates, Student success, Adult learning theory, Spaced learning