Date of Award

Fall 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Mitchell R. Williams

Committee Member

Cherng-Jhy Yen

Committee Member

Joel J. Minzes


Community colleges have increased demands for data to substantiate their institutional effectiveness in financially challenging times to stakeholders and accrediting agencies. Tied to performance funding, North Carolina community colleges are focusing attention on policies and programs that encourage student persistence. The Community College Survey of Student Engagement indicated a strong relationship between student engagement and student success. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to investigate student persistence as measured by student intent to persist as it related to participation in community college-sponsored occupational and academic clubs, to investigate the student-perceived level of participation as it related to student intent to persist, and to discover impediments to club participation.

An electronic survey instrument was developed, validated, and distributed to 4,614 club-eligible students at a rural North Carolina community college. The evaluation of the gathered electronic data used chi-square tests of independence, a binary logistic regression, and descriptive statistics.

Club participation was significantly related to student intent to persist. The varied student-perceived levels participation in club activities and events were measured using a Level of Participation Score (LPS) developed for the study. A list of 17 impediments revealed during a student focus group discussion and a free response box were used by study participants to indicate impediments to club participation.

The study suggests manners in which academic and occupational community college clubs could provide informal faculty-student interactions for at-risk student populations such as remedial students, minority students, and low-income mothers. The study further suggests that for some students, club participation will require overcoming individual fears. Club activities can be geared toward special populations and interests such as STEM-related clubs; however, the study indicated those students enrolled in only online courses do not participate in clubs.

Practitioners are advised to develop strategies to overcome impediments to participation in clubs. Academic leaders are urged to view community college-sponsored clubs as important opportunities to engage students outside of the classroom and to promote informal faculty-student interactions that facilitate student persistence.


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