Academically at-risk college students at a small, private, faith-based university : a qualitative study of factors promoting persistence to the fourth year
This study explored the factors that promoted and the factors that impeded persistence to the fourth year for students who were considered academically at-risk when they entered college. Eighteen participants took part in this basic qualitative study, which utilized three forms of data collection: (a) interview, (b) open-ended survey, and (c) reflective writing. The researcher piloted the data collection tools, along with analyzing data as it was gathered, to ensure the research questions were being answered. Upon the completion of data collection, the researcher utilized inductive, constant comparative analysis, which resulted in the identification of emerging themes. The study’s findings indicated persistence is fostered by care and support from within and outside the institution and through participants making connections to the campus and adjusting in ways that demonstrates a refusal to quit. The primary barriers participants had to overcome were academic struggles, institutional impediments outside of academics, and personal obstacles. The findings highlight the need for policies and practices that foster a supportive and caring campus culture, including capitalizing on the importance of family support for this population of students.