Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Jerry Willis

Second Supervisor

Byron Hargrove

Abstract

This study, which used a quantitative, quasi-experimental constructed comparison group design, explored the persistence of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients’ at LaGuardia Community College over a six year period. TANF is the nation’s primary cash assistance program for public assistance recipients. This study operationalized community college student persistence using three outcomes: (1) semester to semester retention, (2) rate of credit accumulation and (3) rate of graduation for the treatment group (TANF participants in a drop-out prevention program) compared to the control group (constructed comparison group). TANF recipients’ persistence rate as measured by semester to semester retention, credit accumulation, and graduation rate was equivalent to the constructed comparison group when compared. The findings suggest that, given proper support, TANF recipients can persist at rates comparable to similar students of the general student body. An unanticipated result from the study was that the data demonstrated TANF recipients stopped out more frequently than the constructed comparison group over the study period, but still accumulated credits and graduated at rates comparable to the constructed comparison group. This result suggested the students have the resiliency necessary to persist and complete even when their study is interrupted due to unforeseen life changes. The implications of the study signal to practitioners the importance of understanding the specific reasons for a student’s need to stop out so that the appropriate mix of support strategies can be offered as alternatives to withdrawal in an effort to help them graduate.

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