Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Soko Starobin



Community colleges serve as the college of choice for nearly half of all postsecondary students. The role of the community college continues to adapt and change, and the colleges that were once seen as vocational and technical schools now serve as a jumping off point to future educational endeavors and a variety of careers and occupations. Community colleges are aware of their increased role in postsecondary education and understand that they must continue to study their students and adapt to their needs to stay at the educational forefront.

This study was conducted at the 15 community college districts in Iowa with the intention to develop a deeper understanding of the influence of student engagement on community college students' intentions to transfer and STEM aspirations. The study used the new STEM Student Success Literacy survey instrument. The purpose of this study was threefold: (a) to understand the demographic characteristics and engagement practices of students attending Iowa community colleges; (b) to understand the influence, if any, of engagement on students' intentions to transfer to a 4-year institution and on students' STEM aspirations; and (c) to add to the current body of literature on engagement, specifically community college engagement. A review of the literature study on student engagement and community college engagement led to the development of six research questions that guided this study. Alexander Astin's (1993) theory of student involvement and John Weidman's (1989) model of undergraduate socialization were used as the theoretical framework to guide this study.

This analysis found that statistically significant differences exist for variables associated with students' background, enrollment status, and level of engagement between students with transfer intentions and those without transfer intentions and between students with STEM aspirations and those without STEM aspirations. A community college student engagement model was established through the use of an exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis. The model consisted of four engagement constructs: Peer Engagement, Transfer Engagement, Faculty/Staff Encouragement/Assistance and Faculty Engagement on Coursework. Two logistic regression analyses revealed statistically significant indicators of students' intentions to transfer and STEM aspirations. This dissertation concludes with a discussion of the findings, implications for policy and practice, and recommendations for future research.


Copyright Owner

Bianca Marie Myers



File Format


File Size

272 pages