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Why "at-risk" students persist : Pierre Bourdieu's theory applied to student retention at Humber College

Author: Jo Anne Catherine Nugent
Publisher: 2008.
Dissertation: Ed. D. University of Toronto 2008
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Manuscript   Archival Material : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
The following study examines the factors that have contributed to the success of "at-risk" students at Humber College in Toronto in the early 21 st Century. Although colleges and universities in Canada and the United States have instituted many initiatives to increase student retention, the retention rate has remained consistent at 60%-65% for decades. This study utilizes the theory of Pierre Bourdieu to provide a  Read more...
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Details

Named Person: Pierre Bourdieu; Pierre Bourdieu
Material Type: Thesis/dissertation, Manuscript
Document Type: Book, Archival Material
All Authors / Contributors: Jo Anne Catherine Nugent
OCLC Number: 272313930
Description: vii, 302 leaves
Responsibility: by Jo Anne Catherine Nugent.
More information:

Abstract:

The following study examines the factors that have contributed to the success of "at-risk" students at Humber College in Toronto in the early 21 st Century. Although colleges and universities in Canada and the United States have instituted many initiatives to increase student retention, the retention rate has remained consistent at 60%-65% for decades. This study utilizes the theory of Pierre Bourdieu to provide a broad approach to understanding and increasing student retention. In particular, Bourdieu's 3 major concepts of cultural capital, habitus, and field are applied as Bourdieu intended: in context and multi dimensionally.Quantitative analysis yielded 146 students who started in full time programs at Humber in September, 2001 and who were identified as being "at-risk" based upon their final high school average. Interviews were conducted with 17 of these students to discuss which factors resulted in their academic success. This qualitative data indicated that these individuals had extensive cultural capital, positive habitus, and responded to the explicit and implicit demands of the field. Their limited performance in high school was a choice, as was their decision to activate their cultural capital in community college. Conclusions from this study support the applicability of Bourdieu to students at a 21 st Century community college and the importance of incorporating all 3 of his variables in research. As well, academic integration was identified as more significant for success at community college than conventional social integration. Recommendations are offered to colleges regarding increasing student retention and the changing nature of faculty interaction with students. The study concludes with presentation of topics for future research with respect to students who are visible minorities, the impact of gender on graduation, faculty engagement, and a more nuanced perspective on social engagement.

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