School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Jeffrey S. Savage


Career and Technical Education, Community College, Nontraditional, Retention


Curriculum and Instruction | Education


This transcendental phenomenological study described the continuous enrollment experiences of nontraditional career and technical education (CTE) students at the community college. The focus was on understanding the collegiate experience to decrease students' chances of dropping out of college and contribute to the retention scholarship in higher education. The theory guiding this study was Bean and Metzner’s (1985) conceptual model of nontraditional undergraduate student attrition. It explains how background, academic, environmental, psychological outcomes, and social integration affect student retention. The design of this study was grounded in transcendental phenomenological research that explored the continuous enrollment phenomenon from the personal lived experiences of CTE community college students. A sample of 17 students from Lake County Community College participated in face-to-face interviews and focus groups on describing and making meaning of negative and positive experiences as they persisted in their college studies. An emphasis on document analysis was also a part of the data collection strategy to ensure data triangulation. To examine all aspects of the experiences shared by nontraditional CTE students, this study employed inductive data analysis that focused on common aspects of student courses, school withdrawal reports, student attendance reports, student appeals, and graduation reports. These artifacts were used to uncover relevant insights into understanding and ultimately increasing student retention. Ten themes emerged in the results of the research: positive attitudes; progress acknowledgment; self-improvement, career motivations; balancing college with family life; having to maintain work commitments; engaging instructors; concerned advisors; flexible course offerings; and smaller classroom settings.