Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education



Committee Chair

Ronald Platt

Committee Member

Colton Cockrum

Committee Member

Wendy Griswold

Committee Member

Todd Zoblotsky


Postsecondary institutions are measured in part by their students' success and retention rates and seek to employ best practices with their students to prepare them for academic success. Federal, state, and local government programs have produced guidelines for preparing students who are academically ready to enter the workforce. Research findings demonstrate that most students are likely to take more than three years to complete associate degrees and up to six years to complete their baccalaureate degrees. Thus, students who participate in dual enrollment programs tend to complete their degrees sooner than those who do not participate in dual enrollment programs. Student success and retention rates have become issues of concern among stakeholders facing increasing pressure to prepare students adequately for college success and to minimize failure rates. Community colleges in Tennessee have embraced and implemented programs such as dual enrollment to increase students’ GPA scores and improve their retention rates. The purpose of this quantitative non-experimental study was to compare the GPAs and retention rates of dual enrollment and non-dual enrollment students in community colleges across Tennessee. Subjects in this study were classified as entering first-time freshmen (30 or fewer hours) postsecondary students at Tennessee community colleges. Some of the students had been involved in one of the dual enrollment programs within the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) system and some not. Community colleges are vested in creating programs that allow students to have lasting success while pursuing an education at their respective institutions. This study investigated the effectiveness of dual enrollment by comparing cumulative college GPAs and retention rates of dual enrollment students to non-dual enrollment students following the second semester at the thirteen community colleges in Tennessee. The following research questions guided the study: RQ1: To what extent is there a difference in retention rates of first-time freshmen following their second semester who have completed at least one dual enrollment course and those who have not taken a dual enrollment course? RQ2: To what extent is there a difference in the cumulative college GPA scores of first-time freshmen following their second semester who have taken at least one dual enrollment course and those who have not taken a dual enrollment course? A quantitative research methodology with non-experimental comparative analysis was used in this study. This study collected quantifiable information to assess the differences between retention rates and GPA scores for freshmen in dual enrollment courses and those in non-dual courses following their second semester. The quantitative research methodology for this study focused on testing hypotheses and quantifying differences between independent and dependent variables. This included testing the differences between GPA scores and student retention. Not only has the number of high school students taking dual enrollment courses increased dramatically over the last decade, but these students are also more likely than their peers to graduate high school, attend college, and earn degrees. Over 88% of the first-time freshmen in this study who had taken at least one dual enrollment course continued at a Tennessee community college after high school. Additionally, the findings of this study indicate that the median GPAs of dual enrollment students and non-dual enrollment students were statistically significant different. Students' high school GPA can be affected by dual enrollment classes. Dual enrollment can also affect college GPA scores because dual enrollment college course credits may be transferred onto a freshman's college transcript by colleges and universities.


Data is provided by the student

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest.


Open Access