Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Psychology and Research

Major Professor

Jennifer A. Morrow

Committee Members

Gary J. Skolits, Shawn L. Spurgeon, Dulcie L. Peccolo


The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the student services offered at the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology (TCAT) institutions, getting perspectives from students, faculty, and administrators. It also served to investigate the link between student support services and persistence. Using the TCAT institutions as an exemplary model, the evaluation study provided a model to be used by similar institutions to help students persist through their career and technical education experience. The evaluation used a utilization focused approach to determine the effectiveness of student support services provided. Data were collected from student, staff, and administrators and triangulated to draw study conclusions.

Both students and staff recognized the role that instructors play in student support at the TCAT institutions. Although students were able to more specifically discuss the impact of their instructors on their success, the staff members were also aware of the fact that instructors spend the most time with the students on campus and are the first-line of support for them.

Neither population discussed the formal activities of student support services (i.e. financial aid, counseling, enrollment, orientation), rather they usually referred to extra-role behaviors of the student support staff. There was discrepancy when examining student awareness of the services and their use. Staff members do not seem to be aware of the fact that students may not fully understand what student support services are, nor how these services could help them.

These results provide evidence that TCAT institutions are for the most part meeting the needs of their students. It is also evident that the needs of CTE students are very different from those of traditional higher education students. The current research allowed for the examination of an exemplary CTE system, and the investigation of how this system is helping their students persist.

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