Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy





First Advisor

Lorenzo D. Baber


The open-door policy of community colleges has presented a unique challenge to increasing graduation rates. Student entry characteristics such as family background, academic ability, as well as external forces such as family, work, and community obligations, lack of finances, and campus environments with limited opportunities to interact with others all contribute to student departure (Braxton et al., 2004). There is a need to increase retention and completion using appropriate models to improve student engagement based on studies that clearly provide insight into the faculty and student relationship. The overall purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of the variables for environmental pull factors, student effort, social and cultural capital and academics to the frequency of faculty-student interaction in the community college. Additional support for faculty-student interaction was drawn from Astin’s (1985) theory of engagement.

The researcher used three secondary data sets, merged into one, from a medium size community college located in the Midwest. The survey instruments were comprised of the Community College Student Report (CCSR) from the CCSSE and the Institutional Entering Orientation Student Survey (IEOSS) from Any Community College (ACC) (pseudonym). The IEOSS was an institutionally developed survey designed to collect general information from all entering students. Results from these surveys were combined with selected data from the institution’s student enrollment management database.

The findings of this study may help increase our understanding of factors that may influence faculty-student interaction. Results can be used in the development of models to assist with increasing the frequency of faculty-student interaction at community colleges. The researcher utilized a nationally developed, secondary data set already common to community colleges and linked it with institution specific surveys and recorded student data from the study institution’s enrollment management system. This approach to the use of secondary data sets offers promise for future directions of institutional research.

The findings revealed that the most influential factors impacting faculty-student interaction were related to variables for student effort and academics. Of equal importance, variables for environmental pull factors and social and cultural capital were found to not have a significant influence on the frequency of faculty-student interaction. There is a need to recognize faculty who frequently invest in efforts to engage students out of the classroom. Recommendations for changing the reward system for faculty is one approach that may promote more faculty-student interaction outside the classroom. One change that should be considered to more efficiently and effectively promote faculty-student interaction is setting policy at the institutional level regarding faculty office hours. More creative and time-saving measures need to be incorporated through the use of digital media that include social and learning management systems.

Additional research on the different types of faculty-student interaction and the level or quality of the interaction regarding meaningfulness attributed to the interaction between the participants is also needed. Similarly, research conducted on the personality types of students, faculty, and how these personality types relate to faculty-student interaction would be useful to strengthen the understanding of faculty-student interaction.

The United States must increase the number of students who complete a certificate or degree in order increase its current skilled labor market and be competitive in a global context. Unfortunately, community colleges are currently struggling to increase the number of graduates. Community colleges play a crucial role as it is the focus of their mission to provide a skilled workforce and provide students with lower economic status an opportunity to advance to a better way of life. Both the nation and its community colleges share the mission of returning to being a global leader in education, the crux of achieving this is student success.

The faculty-student relationship is at the heart of the learning process and student engagement. It is essential that a better understanding of faculty-student interaction be established by increasing our knowledge of factors that may, or may not influence faculty-student interaction. This knowledge can, in turn, be used to promote practices that increase faculty-student interaction and ultimately lead to increased degree attainment.


Copyright Owner

Bryan Dale Renfro



File Format


File Size

243 pages