Examining the experiences of students enrolled in small community colleges by time of enrollment

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Head, Traci Lynn, 1969-

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The purpose of this study was to examine the experiences of students enrolled in small community colleges to determine if there was a difference in the degree to which students were engaged based upon their primary enrollment in day or in evening courses. Specifically, the study investigated the amount of time and effort students dedicated to their academic pursuits and the degree to which institutional policies and practices supported them in their efforts to determine whether time of enrollment was a significant factor in predicting engagement. The primary goals of the study were to contribute to the understanding of students' experiences and to provide empirical evidence that might serve as the foundation for program development and reform. The findings from the quantitative analysis revealed a significant predictive relationship between time of enrollment and five of the fourteen engagement variables considered in the study. Enrollment in evening courses was linked to lower levels of engagement in each of these five areas: student effort, academic challenge, support for learners, academic preparation, and school opinions. The results of the study supported the development of a theoretical model that depicts student engagement based upon primary enrollment in evening courses. The model places support for learners at the forefront. Students' opinions are the end result, with each of the other engagement variables being affected by the levels of support perceived by evening students.