Proactive facilitation with refugee/immigrant students: An attrition prevention study

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

First Committee Member

Carolyn Garwood - Committee Chair


This study investigated the effectiveness of proactive facilitation in reducing the attrition rate of refugee/immigrants attending an open door community college. Proactive facilitation consisted of a series of facilitator-initiated contacts in order to identify problems, provide support and make appropriate referrels. Facilitators were recruited from the English as a Second Language faculty and from the students enrolled in the final semester of that program. The subjects under study were entering freshmen who possessed refugee or immigrant status and who needed English as a Second Language training. Those placed into the lowest levels of the curriculum were considerd high-attrition prone and those placed into the upper two levels were considered low-attrition prone. Attrition was operationally defined in two ways: (a) the proportion of credits earned vs. credits taken (i.e. success ratio); and (b) the proportion of students who leave school (i.e. withdrawal rate).It was hypothesized that students receiving proactive facilitation would demonstrate lower attrition rate than those not receiving it. Furthermore, it was hypothesized that both faculty and peer facilitators would be equally effective in implementing the treatment. Finally, it was expected that proactive facilitation would reduce attrition equally well in both high-attrition prone and low-attrition prone students.The results obtained showed that, as predicted, students receiving facilitation did have a lower attrition rate than those not receiving it. Faculty proved to be effective facilitators in reducing attrition only for those scoring into the lowest ESL levels. Peers, however, proved to be ineffective regardless of the type of students they facilitated. Furthermore, students defined as high attrition-prone demonstrated a higher attrition rate than their more skilled counterparts. Demographic data suggested that these low-attrition prone students, in addition to being more competent in English, were also younger, were less likely to be married and had fewer children. They also showed a greater commitment to a specific college career after completing ESL instruction.


Education, Community College; Education, Sociology of

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