Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

1-1-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Sharon Elliott

Abstract

ABSTRACT

AN ASSESSMENT OF FACTORS INFLUENCING STUDENT ENROLLMENT WITHIN THE SOUTHERN UNION CONFERENCE OF SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST SECONDARY SCHOOLS

by

OLIVIA D. BEVERLY

December, 2010

Advisor: Dr. Sharon Elliott

Major: Curriculum and Instruction

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Secondary schools operating within the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist are experiencing severe enrollment fluctuations and some instances declines. These trends and patterns have set off alarms within the Southern Union Adventist educational establishment and in some quarters have even raised the specter of whether some schools have long-term sustainability or survivability.

As a consequence of this enrollment dilemma, this research was designed to examine those factors perceived by educational stakeholders within the Southern Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventist deemed to be the most significant in influencing student enrollment trends and patterns.

The methodology for this research consisted of a thorough review of educational K-12 enrollment literature across institutional lines which identified factors influencing student enrollment. This process yielded 21 factors, which were sub-divided into five categories to facilitate ease of respondent responses. The five sub-divided categories were: administration, parents' perceptions, external factors, promotional factors and church leadership. These factors were formulated into a questionnaire to key stakeholders for ranking from most important to least important using a numerical weighting system.

Once the results from the first questionnaire were analyzed using PASW, the number of factors was reduced from 21 to the 7 that received most significant rankings. These seven factors were: extracurricular activities, Christian experiences at other schools, quality of education received in school, the commitment of administrators, personal contacts with potential parents and students, the cost of education, and the commitment of teachers and support staff. A second questionnaire was developed from these results and sent to key stakeholders to rank the top seven factors. An analysis of these results found two factors deemed to be the most significant among the seven in influencing enrollment patterns within secondary schools. These two factors were quality of education and cost.

A focus group of key Southern Union stakeholders was convened to develop recruitment strategies consistent with the research findings. The essential conclusion was that each school needed to tailor its enrollment and recruitment strategies within the context of its particular circumstances, and draw from focus group recommendations those deemed to be a goodness of fit for each school.