Distinguished Master's Thesis Award
2015 Robert and Kathryn Augustine
Distinguished Master's Thesis Award Winner
Denise Corray, Master of Science in College Student Affairs, earned EIU's top research honor for her master's thesis titled, Satisfaction and Importance Analysis of Features and Services to Nontraditional Students: A Mixed Method Approach
Catherine Polydore, Ph.D., associate professor of counseling and student development, served as faculty mentor.
The study examined the importance and satisfaction to nontraditional students (NTS) with features and services offered at Eastern Illinois University (EIU). Participants included students over age 25 who were currently or recently enrolled at the university at the time of data collection. A triangulation mixed-methods approach was utilized; a 40-item instrument was created to measure NTSs' EIU experience. Findings indicated that Instructors' knowledge of course content, Overall quality of instruction, Relevancy of subject matter taught in classes I attend, Cost of tuition to attend EIU, and Clarity of degree requirements were the most important to NTS at EIU. Participants were most satisfied with: Interactions with instructors in class, Instructors' knowledge of course content, Instructors' ability to manage the classroom effectively, Relevancy of subject matter taught in classes I attend, and Overall quality of instruction. NTS identified a need for class times that fit their busy schedules and flexibility in deadlines and course offerings. Most chose to attend EIU for its location, the cost of attending, the program or major offered, and the reputation of the school. They were motivated to remain enrolled due to an interest in reaching their goal of graduation, the instructors (they are knowledgeable, friendly, inspiring, and understand NTS), and the university's location. This study found a practical and significant difference between satisfaction and importance of features and services to NTS at EIU. A recommendation for student affairs professionals is to address areas that were identified as highly important with low satisfaction (Cost of tuition to attend EIU, Perceived ability to secure a job after completing educational goals, Variety of classes within my major, Availability of online or distance learning courses for me to attend, and Times that classes are offered).Full thesis may be accessed at Booth Library's The Keep