Date of Award

Spring 2-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Sherblom

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan K. Isenberg

Third Advisor

Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche


The number of students graduating high school and entering community colleges academically unprepared has increased. The problem is that they are at risk of leaving before degree completion. The community college in this study requires remedial no credit courses for unprepared students transitioning from high school based on an academic assessment test. There is no follow up once they are placed into the remedial courses. In contrast, non-traditional “returning learners” who test into remedial courses additionally receive follow-up in the form of an orientation workshop, a study skills course, and mentoring. The purpose of the study was to (a) review the preparedness of community colleges for the unprepared student, (b) provide unprepared students with a voice about being unprepared, and (c) engage faculty in thinking about their role in meeting the needs of at-risk students. The research methodology was qualitative. Data sources were student surveys of remedial students, conversational interviews with faculty and students, and case studies of three remedial students. The results of this study indicated that faculty and students reported similar concerns from their respective positionsthere is a disconnection between high school and college. Faculty expressed concern over not knowing how to connect with the unprepared students transitioning from high school. Faculty appeared to be at a loss for (a) techniques to inspire and motivate students, and (b) strategies and tools to help students learn. Unprepared students transitioning from high school lacked self esteem and social maturity to communicate their needs. They were often afraid of their professors, and therefore, did not seek help or even admit to needing help. The case studies revealed a difference between the two unprepared students who came directly iii from high school (unsuccessful in college) and the non-traditional unprepared “returning learner” student (successful in college) who had access to the “returning learner” program, which included resources not available to students coming directly from high school, such as an orientation workshop and mentoringa more individualized and holistic approach. In summary, unprepared students transitioning from high school and non-traditional “returning learner” students are the same in their need for a holistic approach with resources for academic success.


Copyright 2012