The research conducted tested a theory based on work by Tinto (1999), Astin (1984), and the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE, 2012) that multiple interventions are needed to significantly improve graduation rates at community colleges. The literature says little about this approach for community college students; therefore, this dissertation contributes to the knowledge base for educational programs. A first-year program at a large, diverse community college using multiple interventions assisted in determining the validity of the theory. The interventions built into the first-year program included learning communities, a student success course (SSC), proactive advising, and experiential learning. The CCCSE and others identified these components as high-impact practices for improving student achievement. A common theme and faculty tied interventions together across the first year of the program. The small sample (n = 21) and the fact this was the pilot year represent the most critical limitations in ascertaining the efficacy of the theory. The program's outcomes were evaluated using propensity score matching (PSM). Updates in statistical software continue to make the method easier to implement and evaluate. Consequently, this method is increasing in popularity in education to determine causality where random assignment is not feasible. Hence, the dissertation spends some time describing the method, so others can benefit from the method in their research. The author compared the program group to matched students from the same campus in the fall and spring terms. Characteristics of the match were chosen based on a careful search of the literature and historical data of the institution to ensure that students in the match group would be comparable. Differences in persistence, grade point average (GPA), and credits earned served to determine the effectiveness of the theory in this pilot. The program did not show a statistically significant increase (p > .1) in persistence, GPA, or credits earned over the matched group. Yet, a small effect was measured for GPA (d = 0.51, fall and d = 0.12, spring), credits earned (d = 0.17, fall and d = 0.13, spring), and persistence (OR = 1.28, fall and OR = 1.25, spring). The positive finding encourages more research into the theory of multiple interventions for community college students. In conclusion, future research should include following up with the participants in year two to determine how long the intervention effect persists. Also, increasing the sample size by including other first-year programs run by the institution improves the ability to detect differences and improve confidence. Finally, multiple interventions need to be tried on many different types of students to determine who benefits most.


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Sivo, Stephen


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education and Human Performance


Teaching, Learning, and Leadership

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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)