School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


John Duryea


traditional, nontraditional, higher education, organizational learning, support services


Educational Leadership | Higher Education


The purpose of this multiple case study was to describe the perceptions of institutional support and services of traditional-age students with nontraditional characteristics at Kansas universities. The central research question for this study was “How do traditional students with nontraditional characteristics experience institutional support and services?” The study was guided by organizational learning theory (Argyris & Schön, 1974). Research was conducted at two four-year universities in the state of Kansas and involved 10 students ages 18 – 24 enrolled or recently enrolled in college, who identified with at least one nontraditional characteristic. Data were collected using semi-structured, face-to-face interviews, focus groups and institutional records. Purposive sampling was utilized to recruit student participants in April to May 2020, when many institutions had closed or converted to online learning due to the Covid 19 pandemic. Data analysis was completed utilizing a number of case study method strategies, primarily cross-case analysis. The themes were termed “support is mainly aligned for traditional freshmen students”, “support for nontraditional students is based on accommodations”, “academic advisors are not helpful”, “surveys are not geared towards academic services”, and “major changes are rarely seen”. The results of the study confirmed that traditional students with nontraditional features had concerns around scheduling and academic advising. The implications of this research include a broader institutional awareness of students and their needs to more adequately support them, as well as a need for discontinuation of the terms “traditional” and “nontraditional” in institutional vernacular. Future research needs to include students at smaller institutions and institutions in other areas.