Thesis

The effect of staffing type on student completion rates at the California Community College

Thesis (M.P.P.A., Public Policy and Administration)--California State University, Sacramento, 2018.

States now place a heavier burden on institutions of higher education to play a role in the evolution of the workforce into a new knowledge economy demanding higher levels of training and different skills than was required in the twentieth century workforce. However, state higher education funding has declined as a share of the budget over the last four decades, and in California’s most recent recession, in real dollars, there was a two billion dollar decrease in funding that has yet to be fully recovered. Keeping in mind the system’s desire to run efficiently recovering from the recession, and the legislative rules in place governing how community colleges may allocate their budget, I employ a quantitative approach to answer the question: To what extent does the composition of staffing levels of full-time, adjunct faculty, and administrators affect student completion rates at the community college level?
 
 The data used to conduct the regression analysis in this thesis comes from the California Community College system’s DataMart. In order to better understand the problem, the regression uses six years of cohort data.
 
 Panel data regression analysis showed, controlling for student and institutional characteristics, a one unit increase in full-time faculty per thousand students predicts a 0.280% increase in that school’s student completion rate with 95% confidence and a one unit increase in part-time faculty per thousand students predicts a -0.067% decrease in that school’s student completion rate with 90% confidence. This finding is consistent with the literature surrounding both full and part-time faculty. Further, when looking at my interaction terms describing the interaction between Pell grant recipients and both types of staff, a one unit increase in PellPartTime predicts a 0.086% increase in student completion rates with 95% confidence and a one unit increase in PellFullTime predicts a 0.179% in student completion rates with 90% confidence. Of note, part-time faculty, when interacted with Pell grant recipients, change from a negative to positive effect on student completion rates. Finally, I recommend state policy granting high Pell grant recipient schools the ability to hire part-time faculty without facing repercussions to allow colleges with poorer student populations to quickly respond to hiring issues that are specific to their district, such as impaction or large enrollment increases that may not be felt system wide. However, as I note, more research is necessary to determine where the most effective Pell cut-off is for campus exemptions.

States now place a heavier burden on institutions of higher education to play a role in the evolution of the workforce into a new knowledge economy demanding higher levels of training and different skills than was required in the twentieth century workforce. However, state higher education funding has declined as a share of the budget over the last four decades, and in California’s most recent recession, in real dollars, there was a two billion dollar decrease in funding that has yet to be fully recovered. Keeping in mind the system’s desire to run efficiently recovering from the recession, and the legislative rules in place governing how community colleges may allocate their budget, I employ a quantitative approach to answer the question: To what extent does the composition of staffing levels of full-time, adjunct faculty, and administrators affect student completion rates at the community college level? The data used to conduct the regression analysis in this thesis comes from the California Community College system’s DataMart. In order to better understand the problem, the regression uses six years of cohort data. Panel data regression analysis showed, controlling for student and institutional characteristics, a one unit increase in full-time faculty per thousand students predicts a 0.280% increase in that school’s student completion rate with 95% confidence and a one unit increase in part-time faculty per thousand students predicts a -0.067% decrease in that school’s student completion rate with 90% confidence. This finding is consistent with the literature surrounding both full and part-time faculty. Further, when looking at my interaction terms describing the interaction between Pell grant recipients and both types of staff, a one unit increase in PellPartTime predicts a 0.086% increase in student completion rates with 95% confidence and a one unit increase in PellFullTime predicts a 0.179% in student completion rates with 90% confidence. Of note, part-time faculty, when interacted with Pell grant recipients, change from a negative to positive effect on student completion rates. Finally, I recommend state policy granting high Pell grant recipient schools the ability to hire part-time faculty without facing repercussions to allow colleges with poorer student populations to quickly respond to hiring issues that are specific to their district, such as impaction or large enrollment increases that may not be felt system wide. However, as I note, more research is necessary to determine where the most effective Pell cut-off is for campus exemptions.

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