Perceptions of Faculty and Drop-Outs of the Supportive Environment within a Post-Secondary Vocational Program
Roberts, Joan Ellen
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The Problem. The problem of this study was to document the perceptions of drop~outs regarding the supportive and non-supportive community college environment, and to examine the self-reported behaviors of the vocational instructors for factors which may discriminate against special needs students. Procedure. Vocational instructors in three Iowa community colleges were surveyed. The response rate ranged from 40 percent to 77.5 percent. Fifty-nine students from the three institutions who dropped or changed vocational programs during the 1980-81 school year were interviewed about their perceptions of the support services, drop reasons, and recommended changes to improve retention. Findings. The instructors felt that students drop programs because of course difficulty, home/work responsibilities, and financial problems. Their most frequent recommendations were for more tutorial help, more help with student problems, and more financial aid. Their responses indicated that they view the characteristics of handicapped and disadvantaged students significantly different from those of nonhandicapped and non-disadvantaged students. The students reported dropping because of home/work responsibilities, inappropriate courses, course difficulties, and financial problems. The changes they most frequently recommended were: more financial aid, better schedules, different instructional methods, and more tutorial help. Conclusions. There was no institution-wide discrimination toward special needs students, but evidence did exist at the individual level. Half of the instructor respondents felt course objectives limited the participation of handicapped and disadvantaged students and only slightly more than half felt the institution provided adequate support services for special needs students. Students identified institutional changes to aid in retention. Recommendations. There should be similar studies of the other Iowa community colleges. There is a need for inservice programs for vocational instructors to help them become more supportive of special needs students.
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