Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Community college students--Iowa--Marshall County--Social conditions; Community college students--Services for--Iowa--Marshall County;


This purposive study selected ten students of different background in order to understand how the educational success of adults was affected by Learning Activity Centers (LAC) in a community college. The ten selected students were all non-traditional students who had at least these three at-risk factors: (a) they scored below the college minimums on a diagnostic test in reading, writing, or mathematics, (b) they were below student financial aid guidelines, and (c) they had an interrupted educational history of two or more years. The ten students were paired into five categories: (a) Sudanese males, (b) Mexican females, (c) single parent females, (d) single females over 40, and (e) males over 40. The ten selected community college students were all graduates or students who were in their final semester who had used the LAC more than 50 hours. Interviews were conducted to determine how the students viewed academic success, how they overcame their at-risk factors, how they interacted with the staff and resources in the LAC, and how the LAC affected their eventual success.

First, although students partially agree with institutional definitions of success, such as retention, GPA, and graduation, these non-traditional, at-risk students have additional definitions of success which include increased social status, independence, and stabilizing their life situations. Second, the interviews also review how students use resiliency factors to counter the negative affects of at-risk factors. Third, while the developmental curriculum teaches study skills, reading, writing improvement, mathematics, and English as a second language, students need the additional modeling, mentoring, and advising they receive in the LAC to practice what they learn, improve their skills, and adjust to the social and academic demands of postsecondary education. The research study concludes with suggestions on how to improve staff training in the LAC and that further studies need to focus on additional diverse cultural groups to determine how students can benefit from LACs.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Robert Boody, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (viii, 270 pages)



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