A case study of dual enrollment at Gainesville State College, 1989-2007
Thellman, Wendy Turney
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This mixed-methods case study examined the practice of dual enrollment at Gainesville State College, from 1989 to 2007, with the purpose of determining the role of state and institutional policies in that practice. Specifically, the study quantified changes in the dual enrollment student population, courses taken, and grades and credit hours earned over time. A total of 1,800 students dually enrolled in 6,443 courses during the research period. Additionally, interviews were conducted with college employees, past and present, to uncover how dual enrollment policy is formed at the institution and what changes have been made to it. The study also included three state level policies in Georgia: 1) Postsecondary Options (PSO), 2) Semester Conversion, and 3) Accel and limits on the number of credit hours eligible for HOPE scholarship funding. Where possible, linkages between specific institutional and state policies and changes in dual enrollment practice were drawn. Interviews were also conducted with high school counselors from feeder high schools to gain further perspective on student participation and the role of state and institutional policy in that participation. The study’s findings indicate that PSO was linked to increases in participation as well as GPA and SAT scores of students. Also, a growth in the number of courses taken that corresponded to the high school core curriculum was noted. Semester conversion was linked to increased enrollment in science courses, but decreased numbers of credit hours in which students enrolled and earned per academic year. Finally, the Accel program and HOPE caps appeared to decrease student participation in dual enrollment. Institutional policy was limited to course delivery at the high school and showed increases in participation from that particular high school. Overall conclusions include: 1) Access to dual enrollment for minority groups is problematic, 2) Financial assistance plays a role in dual enrollment participation, but not to the same degree for all students, 3) Dual enrollment has grown at GSC, despite organizational passivity, 4) Secondary schools are key partners in successful dual enrollment programs, and 5) State policy has little effect on courses taken or grades earned by dual enrollment students.