Karl, Ralph; Ph.D.
Program of Education
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
The Association between Factors Affecting Enrollment Decisions in Manufacturing Occupational Clusters in Two-Year Colleges
Major Professor: Dr. Myron Eighmy
The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationships between factors that
affect student enrollment decisions in manufacturing occupational programs in two-year colleges and to describe current enrollment status of these programs. This purpose was pursued by five hypotheses and one research question that addressed the categorical factors that affect student enrollment decisions in a diversity of academic programs in higher education. These factors are: awareness; influence; recruitment; and socioeconomic status.
Quantitative data were gathered through an online survey instrument. The target populations were full time instructors, academic advisors, and program directors of manufacturing occupational programs in two-year colleges in the Great Lakes and Plains States. The two-year colleges were mostly community and technical colleges that offer certificate and associate’s degree programs in manufacturing-related occupations. A total of 288 full time faculty and academic advisors from 155 two-year colleges participated in the study by responding to the survey instrument and providing the data that were later analyzed to address the research questions.
PASW software was used for data processing and three statistical methods: descriptive statistics; path analysis; and discriminant analysis were employed for data analysis. The descriptive analysis corroborated most of what the literature suggest are the most and the least effective awareness, influence, recruitment, and socioeconomic factors that affect student enrollment decisions. While path analysis showed that, the path to student enrollment in manufacturing occupational programs in two-year colleges starts from awareness, and goes through influence, and recruitment factors, the discriminant analysis showed that, awareness and recruitment factors are the main independent categorical variables that predict enrollment size in manufacturing occupational programs in two-year colleges in the Great Lakes and Plains States.