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Factors related to predicting grade point averages of dislocated workers at a rural community college

Dissertation
Author: James Brent Gregory
Abstract:
  The purpose of the study was to examine relationships which existed between selected demographics and college grade point averages "GPAs" for dislocated workers and non dislocated workers enrolled in career-technical courses at a rural community college. The variables included in the study are age, gender, and marital status. The study also reports identified educational goals of dislocated workers as well as the perceived enhancements and barriers to achieving the goals. This study was conducted to assist workforce investment network "WIN" personnel and college counselors in the advisement of dislocated workers interested in the pursuit of career-technical training. A survey research design was used to collect data from first semester career-technical students within a program at East Central Community College in Decatur, MS. An instrument designed by the researcher utilized three demographic items and three open-ended questions to collect the data within a two-week period. A total of 274 surveys were collected. The data were analyzed through the use of descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings of the study indicated the variables of age and gender were shown to have significant relationships with college GPA. Dislocated workers were found to be older, female, and to maintain a higher GPA than non-dislocated worker students. Responses to the open-ended questions revealed that the majority of dislocated workers stated graduation to be a primary goal. Enhancements included support from family and financial aid, most commonly in the form of Workforce Investment Act "WIA" funding. Dislocated workers responded that personal finances and time management skills were the most difficult barriers to overcome in regards to meeting educational goals.

iv TABLE OF CONTENTS

DEDICATION ................................................................................................................... ii

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................... iii

LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................. vi

LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... vii

CHAPTER

I. INTRODUCTION ......................................................................................1

Statement of the Problem .............................................................................3 Research Questions ......................................................................................5 Purpose of the Study ....................................................................................5 Delimitations and Limitations of the Study .................................................6 Key Terms ...................................................................................................7 Significance of the Study .............................................................................9

II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE ....................................................................10

The Dislocated Worker ..............................................................................10 Category A .....................................................................................11 Category B .....................................................................................12 Category C .....................................................................................13 Category D .....................................................................................13 Grief Theory...............................................................................................13 History and Mission of Community Colleges ...........................................16 Workforce Investment Act of 1998 ...........................................................18 Delta Workforce Investment Area .................................................20 Mississippi Partnership Workforce Investment Area ....................21 South-central Mississippi Works Workforce Investment Area .....21 Twin Districts Workforce Investment Area ..................................21 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009..................................25 Predictors of Academic Success ...............................................................28 Age .................................................................................................29

v Gender ............................................................................................29 Marital Status .................................................................................30 Chapter Summary ......................................................................................30

III. METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................31

Research Design.........................................................................................31 Population ..................................................................................................33 Selection of Subjects ..................................................................................34 Instrumentation ..........................................................................................35 Data Collection ..........................................................................................36 Data Analysis .............................................................................................38

IV. FINDINGS .................................................................................................39 Research Question 1 ..................................................................................40 Research Question 2 .................................................................................42 Research Question 3 ..................................................................................46 Chapter Summary ......................................................................................50

V. SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS............................................51 Introduction ...............................................................................................51 Results and Implications ...........................................................................52 Conclusion ................................................................................................ 56 Recommendations for Future Research ....................................................57

REFERENCES ..................................................................................................................60

APPENDIX

A. REQUEST FOR DATA COLLECTION AND APPROVAL LETTERS .............64

B. SURVEY INSTRUMENT .....................................................................................69

C. IRB APPROVAL ...................................................................................................73

vi LIST OF TABLES

4.1 Number of Surveys Submitted and Returned .......................................................40

4.2 Model Summary of Multiple Regression ..............................................................40

4.3 Relationship of GPA in regards to Age, Gender, and Marital Status ...................41

4.4 T-Test Comparison of the Variables of GPA and Age ..........................................42

4.5 Summary Table Regarding the Gender Variable of Dislocated and Non- Dislocated Workers ................................................................................................43

4.6 Chi-Square Analysis Regarding the Gender Variable of Dislocated and Non-Dislocated Workers .......................................................................................44

4.7 Summary Table Regarding the Marital Status Variable of Dislocated and Non-Dislocated Workers .......................................................................................45

4.8 Chi-Square Analysis Regarding the Marital Status Variable of Dislocated and Non-Dislocated Workers .................................................................................46

4.9 Frequency Statistics on Dislocated Worker Perceived Educational Goals ............47

4.10 Factors that Enhance Academic Success of Dislocated Workers ..........................48

4.11 Factors that are Barriers to Academic Success of Dislocated Workers .................49

vii LIST OF FIGURES

1.1 Map of Mississippi Community and Junior Colleges ............................................18 1.2 Map of Mississippi Workforce Districts ................................................................22 1.3 Mississippi Workforce Map ...................................................................................25

1 CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

Community colleges have long been a provider of both programs and services to a widely diverse student population (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). This role includes being one of the leaders in the training of the nation’s workforce. This is due in part to relationships that were fostered though such federal programs as the Wagner-Peyser Act, the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act Amendment (CETA), Job Training Partnership Act (JPTA), the Workforce Investment Act (WIA), and most recently the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This relationship has become even more important due to volatile economic conditions that have led to many individuals being laid off and struggling to find sustainable employment. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009) states that over eight million people were unemployed in March of 2009 which resulted in an unemployment rate of 8.5%. This is the highest March rate of unemployment the United States has faced since 1983 (10.3%). This downward spiral began in Dece mber of 2007 and since that time 5.1 million jobs have been lost with the period of December 2008 through April 2009 having

accounted for almost two-thirds of this total (3.3 million). The unemployment rates for adult men (8.8%), adult women (7%), teenagers (21.7%), Caucasians (7.9%), African - Americans (13.3%), and Hispanics (11.4%) continue to trend upward. J ob losers who have completed temporary jobs increased to 8.2 million in March 2009 and almost

2 doubled over the last twelve months. The number of long-term unemployed workers rose to 3.2 million and has increased by almost two million since December 2007 (U.S. Department of Labor Statistics, 2009). When these workers are unemployed, the effects are not just felt by them alone but also their families and the country as a whole

(Baumohl, 2007). McEachern (2009) noted these effects occur when the workers and their families lose wages and the country loses the goods and services that would have otherwise been produced. Also, unemployment fo r more workers can occur due to the loss of purchasing power by those unemployed. It is, therefore, important for these individuals to obtain the necessary skill-set to re- enter the workforce in the least amount of time (McEachern, 2009). The primary mission of the community college is “to provide access to programs and services that will allow for more vital communities” (Vaughn, 2006). Therefore it is critical that advocates articulate their concerns about programs and services offered by the college (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). The community college is a comprehensive institution in that it strives to provide services to all individuals within the community (Vaughn). Liberal arts, developmental education, career education, and community education are major facets which define this idea of a comprehensive institution (Cohen & Brawer). All students who enter a community college will not enroll in a higher institution; thus, it is critical that they be provided with programs and opportunities that will allow them to be successful. This allows the community college to become more functional and integrated into the community (Cohen & Brawer). The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) of 1998 was created to replace the Job Partnership Training Act (JPTA) of 1982 and provides training services and funding for

3 dislocated workers. This act changed federal job training and led to the creation of a new and comprehensive workforce investment system. Title I of WIA authorizes services which include employment and training services for dislocated workers as well as adults and youth (U.S. Department of Labor, 1998). The Workforce Investment Network “WIN” is the primary delivery provider for WIA services in Mississippi (WIN in Mississippi, n. d.). The WIN Job Centers, which are located throughout the state, offer services for these individuals as well as identify those who qualify for the Dislocated Worker Program. The Dislocated Worker Program is designed to provide support and job skills to those individuals who have lost jobs through no fault of their own (WIN in Mississippi, n. d.). The WIN Job Centers provide such services as Individual Training Accounts (ITA’s) which give the dislocated worker financial assistance to be used with an eligible training provider (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). In addition to WIA, additional funding has been made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The WIA funds that are located within the Recovery Act are to be considered fiscal year 2008 monies and thus must be expended by the end of fiscal year 2010 with the majority of these monies being expended during the first year of availability (Recovery.gov. , 2009).

Statement of the Problem Dislocated workers are entering career-technical education at local community and junior colleges in order to acquire the necessary skills to become more employable in today’s job market (Davis, 2008). The ITA specialist at the local WIN Center and dislocated worker coordinator located at the local community/junior college do not

4 currently have access to predictors of success that might assist in the guidance of dislocated workers (WIN in Mississippi, n. d.). There is not currently a large body of research devoted to factors that affect academic success in dislocated workers enrolled in career-technical education. This information could be used to identify potential barriers to the goals of the dislocated worker and assist the ITA specialist and dislocated worker coordinator in developing a plan to assist the dislocated worker in reaching said goals. Dislocated workers have been through a traumatic experience which is in some ways unique from what a non-dislocated worker student has experienced. Dislocated workers experienced a loss which can create a grieving process not unlike the loss of a loved one (Dahlstrom, 2002; Kubler-Ross, 1969). The Workforce Investment Act (1998) provided services and funding in the form of Individual Training Accounts (ITA). The ARRA (2009) provided a level of financial assistance for Dislocated Workers led to a high level of accountability from both state agencies as well as training providers. The current level of accountability for a program to retain WIA approval is a WIA student completion rate of 60% (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). If the community college does not provide necessary measures to assist students in program completion, they risk losing funding for their programs (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). The importance of returning these individuals to the workforce cannot be understated. The employment situation is the most important of the U.S. economic indicators; thus, any information which could lead to determining if dislocated workers are being successful in training is vital (Baumohl, 2007).

5 Research Questions In order to determine if there are differences between non-dislocated worker students and dislocated workers in terms of predictors of success at a rural community college, the answers to the following questions were sought: 1. What are the predictors of academic success (GPA) among students in a career technical program? 2. Are there significant differences in GPA, age, gender, and marital status between non-dislocated worker students and dislocated workers? 3. What are the perceived barriers and enhancements to academic success among dislocated workers?

Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study was to compare responses of non-dislocated worker students and dislocated workers on a survey that identified specific areas as possible predictors of academic success at a rural community college. The college used for this study is East Central Community College in Decatur, MS. Specifically, the researcher was concerned with the variables of age, gender, and marital status. The researcher also sought to determine if there were specific barriers and/or enhancements to college success among dislocated workers. This study may be utilized in assisting dislocated worker coordinators, ITA specialists, and college counselors in interview sessions with dislocated workers as they determine a plan of study. By identifying potential

6 enhancements and barriers, the dislocated workers will better be able to plan a course of action as they prepare for training.

Delimitations and Limitations of the Study The following delimitations were observed in this study. 1. The study consisted of career-technical students enrolled in courses at East Central Community College, a member of the Mississippi Community and Junior College System. 2. The study examined the variables included on the survey instrument. 3. The time during which the survey was administered was limited to a 2-week period due to scheduling constraints with faculty. The following limitations were observed in this study. 1. The small sample size of participants from only career-technical students within the first semester of a program at East Central Community College. 2. The study was limited by the fact that the perceptions of the dislocated workers were categorized solely through the survey instrument. 3. The researcher did not compare or contrast the educational goals of dislocated workers and non-dislocated worker students. 4. The researcher did not compare or contrast the self-perceived enhancements or barriers of dislocated workers and non-dislocated worker students.

7 Key Terms The following terms are provided to assist in making clear the terminology used within the research. Age is the student’s chronological age at the time he/she participated in this research study. A Community College is an institution of higher education that is regionally accredited to award associate of arts degree, associate of science degree, and vocational certificates. Also know as junior colleges and two-year schools (Cohen & Brawer, 2003). Customer refers to an individual who directly benefits from services provided (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). A Dislocated Worker is an individual who has lost a job through no fault of their own. The four categories of dislocated worker are: General Dislocated Worker, Plant Closure Dislocated Worker, Self-Employed or Unemployed Dislocated Worker, and Displaced Homemaker (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). Gender refers to the biological characteristics of the male/female sex. An ITA (Individual Training Account) is the amount of money designated to cover approved expenses in an eligible training program for an individual (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). The ITA Specialist is a MDES employee who is responsible for interviewing, assessing, certifying, and assisting individuals in choosing a career-track (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). A Non-dislocated worker is considered to be any first semester within program career- technical student determined not to be a dislocated worker.

8 Marital Status refers to the classifications of single, married, divorced, or separated. The SWIB (State Workforce Investment Board) is the workforce board which facilitates federal monies within the state of Mississippi (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). A TEGL (Training and Employment Guidance Letter) is Federal documentation which provides policy guidance in regards to government ACTs and plans (U.S. Department of Labor, n. d.). Unemployed refers to all persons who had no employment during the reference week, were available for work, except for temporary illness, and had made specific efforts to find employment during the 4-week period ending with the reference week. Persons who were waiting to be recalled to a job from which they had been laid off need not have been looking for work to be classified as unemployed. Persons that are classified as unemployed have not necessarily filed or would be eligible for unemployment benefits (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). The Unemployment Rate represents the number of unemployed as a percent of the civilian labor force (McEachern, 2009). The WIA Coordinator is an employee of a junior or community college, funded by local workforce area, whose primary responsibility is to assist the ITA specialist and student in regards to the school’s financial, administrative, and curriculum requirements (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). A WIN Job Center provides WIA funded services at both comprehensive and affiliate centers; also known as One-Stop Career Center (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009).

9 The Workforce Investment Act (WIA) is a Federal act created in 1998 which authorizes state and local communities to develop a new workforce delivery system which provides core services, intensive services, and training services (U.S. Department of Labor, 1998). The Workforce Investment Network (WIN) is a system of WIN Job Centers that provides federal, state, and community services in the state of Mississippi (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009).

Significance of the Study This study hoped to provide data on dislocated workers to the WIN Job Center and their partners at the community college. The focus of the study was to administer the survey instrument to the participants, analyze the findings, and provide further recommendations. These findings and recommendations will be made available to dislocated worker coordinators, career-technical counselors, and ITA specialists for the development of strategies to assist dislocated workers. The goal of this study was to provide data to WIN Job Centers and community colleges that will contribute to the development of successful educational plans for dislocated workers.

10 CHAPTER II REVIEW OF LITERATURE

The Dislocated Worker The labor force is comprised of civilians (non-military) who are 16 years of age and older with the exception of those in prison or mental institutions (McEachern, 2009). Further, McEachern noted the unemployment rate in turn is the percentage of the labor force that is currently unemployed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (2009) gathers these statistics through interviews with 60,000 households on a monthly basis. Individuals who are not counted among the labor force are those who may have retired, are students, care for children at home, have a long-term illness or disability, or simply do not seek work (McEachern). A final category that is not counted as unemployed is that of the discouraged worker. These individuals are those who drop out of the labor force due to frustration because they cannot find work (McEachern). According to the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (2009), the unemployment rate in Mississippi was 9.4 percent compared to a nationwide unemployment rate of 9 percent. For the month of March 2009, approximately 123,000 Mississippians were unemployed, with the construction and manufacturing industries being the hardest hit. The range of unemployment was 6 percent in Lamar and Rankin counties compared to 19.3 percent in Holmes County. The unemployment rate in the East

11 Central Community College district was 9.8 percent. In all, 233,676 individuals applied for unemployment insurance for the month of March 2009, with benefits paid exceeding $33 million dollars (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). These numbers demonstrate the desperate situation of many Mississippians in need of jobs and/or training. In order for an individual to qualify as Adult WIA, individuals must meet the basic requirements of adult service by being at least 18 years of age, a United States citizen or eligible non-citizen, and registered according to the provisions of the Military Selective Service Act. In order for an individual to meet the qualifications for a dislocated worker, they must meet the same standards as that of Adult WIA (WIN in Mississippi, n. d.). After meeting these basic requirements, an individual may be identified as a dislocated worker in one of four categories that have been created through the ARRA (2009). The four categories are General Dislocated Worker (Category A); Plant Closure (Category B); Self-Employed or Unemployed (Category C); or Displaced Homemaker (Category D). An individual is identified as a General Dislocated Worker if they meet the following criteria per TEGL 14.08 (U.S. Department of Labor, 2009):

Category A

(1) Individual has been laid off from a job or has received notification of termination or layoff, (2) Individual is either eligible for or has exhausted unemployment compensation; or has been employed for a duration sufficient to demonstrate to the appropriate entity at the One-Stop Career Center

12 referred to in WIA section 134, but is not eligible for unemployment compensation due to insufficient earnings or having performed services for an employer that was not covered under a state unemployment compensation law, (3) Individual is unlikely to return to a previous industry or occupation. (p. 13) An individual can be identified as a Plant Closure Dislocated Worker if they meet one of the following criteria:

Category B

(1) Individual has been terminated or laid off, or has received notification of termination or layoff, due to a permanent or substantial layoff from a plant, facility or enterprise (2) Individual is employed at a facility at which the employer makes an announcement that the facility will close within 180 days (3) Individual is employed at a facility in which the employer makes a general announcement that the facility will close. (p. 13) An individual can qualify as a Self-employed or Unemployed Dislocated Worker if they meet the following criteria:

13 Category C

(1) Individual was self-employed but is now unemployed as a result of general economic conditions in the community in which the individual resides or the unemployment is due to natural disaster. (p. 14) The final category to which an individual can qualify as a dislocated worker is that of Displaced Homemaker Dislocated Worker. In order to be placed in this category the individual must meet the following criteria:

Category D

(1) Individual has been providing unpaid services to family members in the home (2) Individual has been dependent on the income of another family member and is no longer supported by said income (3) Individual is unemployed or underemployed and is experiencing difficulty in either obtaining or upgrading employment. (p. 14)

Grief Theory Dislocated workers have been through a loss as a group that other groups of students re-entering post-secondary education have not experienced as a whole (Dahlstrom, 2002). This view of loss has led MDES to view dislocated workers as going through a grieving process not unlike that of the death of a loved one (Mississippi Department of Employment Security, 2009). The loss of one’s job is not just limited to

14 the payment that is received for one’s services. A job in societal terms can also be linked to how an individual perceives oneself in society and within the structure of one’s own home. An individual’s profession can confer on one a sense of self worth and place within the world. When this is taken away, it can lead to feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, and shame (Dahlstrom, 2002). Grief theory has been associated with this phenomenon as the stages of grief have been found to be similar between the two groups. The Mississippi Department of Employment Services has utilized the Kubler-Ross Five Stage Model of Grief to illustrate what is happening with dislocated workers. Kubler-Ross wrote her book On Death and Dying in 1969 to describe the stages of grief that terminally ill patients experience. In this regard, the Kubler-Ross method is different from other models in that it applies to the grief cycle of the individual experiencing the situation and not to those grieving another person. The Kubler-Ross method has become one of the most widely utilized grief models in the field of psychology and applied to other forms of grief such as the loss of one’s profession. The five stages of her model are (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance. When describing the model, Kubler-Ross explained that these reactions were normal defense mechanisms that individuals used to deal with grief. These stages of grief are not meant to be moved through in a linear manner as an individual can occupy different stages at different times. This can also include a regression within the method which is not uncommon in nature. Denial is the first stage of the Kubler-Ross (1969) method and is determined to be a temporary defense to the news of change. In this stage, the individual does not want to believe that the change is taking place. One pretends that the change is not happening by

15 making such statements as, “This can’t be happening to me.” The individual tends to keep a distance from the problem in hopes that it will simply go away. The second phase in this method is that of anger occurring when the individual comes to accept that the change is real. This anger is then directed outward to either someone or something that the individual feels is responsible for the change. In the workforce, this can be co-workers, supervisors, or the company itself. The economy can also be blamed for the loss of one’s job. This can lead to feelings of irritability which can affect the relationship between the dislocated worker, family, and friends (Kubler-Ross, 1969). In the third stage, the dislocated worker has moved past feelings of anger and has moved on to bargaining. The dislocated worker begins to bargain with the individual with whom he/she feels is responsible in order to not lose his/her job. This is a natural reaction of one who is facing change in seeking to put off the inevitable. The person might ask to take a cut in pay, change schedule, or work part-time in order to keep a job. The individual might increase work performance by doing such things as working overtime (without pay) in order to be invaluable to the organization (Kubler-Ross, 1969). Depression is the fourth stage and sets in after the bargaining phase has been realized to be futile. It is at this stage that the reality of change sets in. The dislocated worker becomes aware of the change as well as the losses associated with the change. These losses can include financial, friendships, and overall stability. The depression that ensues can lead to strong feelings in terms of self worth and also an overall lack of energy and responsiveness (Kubler-Ross, 1969).

16 The final stage occurs when the dislocated worker accepts that the change is not going away and moves to acceptance. When discussing acceptance, this is not to mean that the individual is happy with the change but rather the individual has become resigned to the change. Acceptance is the period when the individual begins to explore options and look for new possibilities in his/her life. The Kubler-Ross method fails to mention the stage of hope, but the author addressed this by stating that hope was a positive thread which runs throughout the cycles. This hope is that there will be a positive end to the change and that the lessons learned from the experience can be used throughout life (Kubler-Ross, 1969).

History and Mission of Community Colleges Community colleges are recognized by industry as the primary provider of career- technical education (Davis, 2008). This role has been developed and strengthened by the strong ties that have developed due to the responsiveness of community/junior colleges to workforce needs (Davis, 2008). The role of the community college in higher education has expanded dramatically since its humble beginnings at Joliet Junior College in 1901with six students (Joliet Junior College, 2009). In 2006-07, there were 1,045 community colleges in the United States with an enrollment of 6.2 million students (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2009). Community college enrollment accounted for 35 percent of all postsecondary students during that year (National Center for Educational Statistics). A major reason for the increase in enrollment at community colleges is due in large part to the affordability of the education. The average annual community college tuition is less than half that of public four-year colleges and

Full document contains 86 pages
Abstract:   The purpose of the study was to examine relationships which existed between selected demographics and college grade point averages "GPAs" for dislocated workers and non dislocated workers enrolled in career-technical courses at a rural community college. The variables included in the study are age, gender, and marital status. The study also reports identified educational goals of dislocated workers as well as the perceived enhancements and barriers to achieving the goals. This study was conducted to assist workforce investment network "WIN" personnel and college counselors in the advisement of dislocated workers interested in the pursuit of career-technical training. A survey research design was used to collect data from first semester career-technical students within a program at East Central Community College in Decatur, MS. An instrument designed by the researcher utilized three demographic items and three open-ended questions to collect the data within a two-week period. A total of 274 surveys were collected. The data were analyzed through the use of descriptive and inferential statistics. The findings of the study indicated the variables of age and gender were shown to have significant relationships with college GPA. Dislocated workers were found to be older, female, and to maintain a higher GPA than non-dislocated worker students. Responses to the open-ended questions revealed that the majority of dislocated workers stated graduation to be a primary goal. Enhancements included support from family and financial aid, most commonly in the form of Workforce Investment Act "WIA" funding. Dislocated workers responded that personal finances and time management skills were the most difficult barriers to overcome in regards to meeting educational goals.