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A Path Analytic Comparison of Community College and Career College Students Using the Bean and Metzner (1985) Model of Nontraditional Students Open Access

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Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the purpose of this study was to compare nontraditional student retention as measured by graduation date for career college and community colleges students. The research problem addressed by this study was the complete lack of comparative investigation between graduation dates at career colleges and community colleges. This study was a realization of Bean and Metzner's (1985) conceptual model for nontraditional student attrition model but applied their model to how direct and indirect paths would compare with graduation date as the dependent variable. The study used multigroup path analysis as the primary methodology. Data for the study came from the NCES's Beginning Postsecondary Survey, and the initial sample size consisted of 602 career college students (186 males and 416 females) and 485 community college students (223 males and 262 females). The research focused on two primary research questions: one that asked about data-model fit and the other about the variability of the parameter estimates for specific paths in a realization of Bean and Metzner (1985) model. The research separated students by gender and then examined the two research questions based upon the exogenous variables of Credit Hours and Age. The research showed that male students were more comparable based upon the exogenous variables of Credit Hours and Age than female students. For the seven paths of interest for Credit Hours and seven paths for Age, male students were significantly different for both exogenous variables 35% of the time whereas females differed 50% of the time. The research showed the realized model based upon Bean and Metzner (1985) provided a basis for comparing community college and career college students based upon the dependent variable of graduation date.

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