Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Higher Education Administration
J. Patrick Biddix
Jimmy Cheek, Lisa Driscoll, Teresa Berry
The goal of this nonexperimental, multi-part dissertation was to explore issues of course material affordability for students at Tennessee community colleges. Data were drawn from two sources: a 53-item student survey (n = 1,912) and three years of anonymized outcomes data provided by the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR). Guided by Bensimon’s conceptual framework on equity in higher education (Bensimon, 2005, 2012), data for each study were disaggregated to examine findings through the lens of equity, with attention to three populations of concern for Tennessee higher education (race/ethnicity, low-income, and Adult Learners over age 25).
The first article, Prices they pay: Academic achievement and progress to graduation barriers experienced by community college students due to the cost of course materials, establishes the issue. A binary logistic regression indicated that low-income students disproportionately experience barriers to academic achievement, and that students under the age of 25 disproportionately experience barriers to graduation. The second article, Inclusive Access: A multi-institutional study of academic outcomes from a statewide community college automatic billing eTextbook pilot, compared the academic outcomes of an Inclusive Access pilot with those of the two previous fall semesters. A four-level hierarchical generalized linear mixed modeling approach to analysis showed no significant benefits or detriments to academic achievement from participation in the Inclusive Access automatic billing program pilot, either for students overall or for any of the three populations examined through the lens of equity.
In the third article, The influence of technological savviness and home internet access on student decisions to use print or digital course materials, a multinomial logistic regression was employed to explore student format decisions and potential correlates including demographic characteristics, technological savviness, and availability of home internet access. Most students preferred print format materials, perceiving them to better facilitate their learning. Those who preferred digital materials did so primarily for their portability and convenience. Preferences did not significantly differ by demographic characteristics (race/ethnicity, income, Adult Learner status), level of technological savviness, and/or availability of home internet access.
Findings overall provide insight useful for framing conversations around the role of institutional policies and practices in creating, perpetuating, and resolving issues related to course material costs. Recommendations for policymakers and educational leaders, along with directions for future research, are included.
Spica, Elizabeth, "Through the Lens of Equity: Impacts of Course Material Costs for Tennessee Community College Students. " PhD diss., University of Tennessee, 2021.
Available for download on Wednesday, May 15, 2024