The impact of exposure to Early College students on community college student academic and social integration

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Catherine Fairley Pollock (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Meagan Karvonen

Abstract: Over the past decade, the nation has seen an increase in high school dropout rates as well as an increased need for a more skilled workforce. The Early College movement in North Carolina was a collaboration between public schools and colleges designed to address these needs. The program immersed child learners beginning in the 9th grade in classes and on campus with college students, many of whom were adult students (25 or older). Research and theory indicate there are significant differences between child and adult learners. These theories and research, along with intergroup contact theory and theories on student retention, provide a framework for the premise that the introduction of child learners into the predominantly adult population of the community college could have an effect on its student population. The purpose of this study was to determine if a relationship existed between exposure to Early College students and the academic and social integration of community college students. The research questions were concentrated in four main areas: college student exposure to Early College students, college student academic and social integration, the relationship between exposure and integration, and the relationship between the degree of exposure and integration. North Carolina community college campuses (N = 4) were chosen for the study based on the proportion of Early College students in overall enrollment on campus and in the classroom. Participants (N = 258) completed two surveys, one designed to measure academic and social integration (Institutional Integration Scales, Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980), and the other a researcher-designed instrument to measure exposure to Early College students (Early College Student Behavior). The data collected for the exposure variable revealed that the quantity (number of listed interactions) of exposure was not related to integration but the quality of exposure (perceptions about classroom and campus behavior ratings) was related to integration. Additionally, the degree of exposure (the proportion of Early College students in class and on campus) had an impact on integration. Evaluation of the data collected on the relationship between the quantity of academic exposure and academic integration (rs = -.088, p = .16) and between the quantity of social exposure and social integration (rs = .101, p = .10) did not produce significant results. However, a moderate, positive correlation (r = .464, p < .001, r² = .22) was found between the quality of exposure to Early College students and academic integration, and between the quality of social exposure and social integration (r = .313, p < .001, r² = .10). In addition, the degree of class exposure (defined by the proportion of Early College students enrolled) had a significant impact on academic integration scores, F(1,254) = 49.38, p < .001; ?² = 0.16, and the degree of campus exposure had a significant impact on social integration scores, F(1,254) = 42.82, p < .001; ?² = 0.14. Overall, the results indicate further research is warranted and that measures to improve the successful integration of Early College students with college students can only be accomplished through creative collaborative efforts between both institutions.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2009
Academic Integration, Adult Learning, Community College, Early College, Intergroup Contact Theory, Social Integration
College-school cooperation -- North Carolina
Early College High School Initiative (Program)
Student adjustment -- North Carolina
Community college students -- North Carolina

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