Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Roger G. Baldwin


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of an early contact program on the achievement, persistence, and satisfaction of new underprepared community college students. While open door admissions policies assure access to higher education, nearly three-fourths of all community college students leave before completing an associate degree. The traditional sink or swim approach to community college student success is at odds with the goal of improved student outcomes. It was hypothesized that first-time underprepared community college students who participate in a program providing personal contact and support exhibit greater achievement, persistence, and satisfaction than their cohorts who are left to seek their own assistance from the institution. Using a posttest-only control group design, 240 college entrants at an urban community college in eastern Virginia, were randomly selected and assigned to two groups. The treatment consisted of college-initiated telephone counseling, academic advising, and peer tutoring with students during their first semester. Using the one-tailed t-test for independent samples and chi square test of association, it was found that at the end of 15 weeks, students (n = 108) who participated an the early contact program achieved significantly higher average GPA (t = 3.7, p {dollar}<{dollar}.05), number of productive grades (t = 3.24), and number of college credits (t = 4.46). Program participants were retained in college at an average rate of 17 percent higher than those who did not participate. However, administration of the ACT Student Opinion Survey to both groups near the end of the first semester, found no significant difference in their satisfaction with the college. It was concluded that the early contact program was more effective in promoting achievement and persistence than the usual passive treatment given entering students at Thomas Nelson Community College.



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