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Dual credit programs have been around for decades, allowing a large body of evidence to emerge. The evidence from the past twenty years have also permitted longitudinal studies that reveal the efficacy of dual credit programs in promoting models for peace in higher education. Dual credit programs are executed differently in different states. Program feature diversity and results from empirical literature also permits the body of literature to inform best practices for administration, management, and program assessment in Hawaii. Themes in the literature include a historical overview showcasing the practically incontrovertible evidence in support of dual credit programs, with recent literature trending towards specific elements of program design, implementation, and assessment. Other trends include the ability of dual credit programs to promote equity through the promotion of minority students in higher education and to increase the representation of minority students and faculty in institutes of higher learning. The literature, particularly focused on Hawaii, shows how some dual credit programs may be failing to reach objectives due to a lack of supports for students during their critical transition from high school to university. Implications for future research are also covered in the literature. Major trends in the literature are as follows.
General Support for Dual Credit Programs
The literature overall indicates “strong support” for dual credit programs since they have become more commonplace (Marshall & Andrews, 2002, p. 237). In states like Illinois, dual credit programs have paralleled legislation designed to promote social justice and advocacy in education (Andrews, 2001). Since the late 1990s, official and formal measures of dual credit program outcomes have taken into account student and parent reactions and perceptions, as well as those from educators and administrators (Marshall & Andrews, 2002). The literature on dual credit programs also demonstrates the need to engage community organizations and the media in promoting dual credit in a positive light, which raises awareness and increases parental involvement in student education too (Andrews, 2001). A holistic approach to dual credit programs has elicited substantial general support for the integration of these programs throughout a state’s educational system (Andrews, 2011; Tobolowsky & Allen, 2016).
Leadership is a key to providing the structural and institutional support pathways for dual credit course options. Literature also shows how dual credit programs have universally been “state-driven” initiatives in postsecondary reform, indicating the fusion of educational philosophies and educational practices (Walsh, Brake & Choi, 2005, p. 199). While federal funding is critical, state-driven support for dual credit programs remains the most important source of revenue and philosophical support (Tobolowsky & Allen, 2016). Increased collaboration and formalized strategic partnerships between public school systems and colleges and universities of all types have also been the cornerstone of dual credit programs, which could just as easily have been linked more to the private sector (Walsh, Brake & Choi, 2005). While each state handles the funding for dual credit programs differently, and offers different types of financial aid options, the body of literature shows that the most critical elements with regards to state and federal support include tuition support, reimbursement for transportation and books, and need-based aid (Tobolowsky & Allen, 2016). Therefore, there is great consensus in the literature related to the genesis and orientation of dual credit programs as being driven by top-down practices in government and educational leadership. Future research will reveal ways of improving the efficacy of strategic partnerships.
Goal of Increasing Enrollment
Another overarching theme in the literature is related to the ways dual credit programs almost instantly lead to increased enrollment in colleges and universities among underserved populations. In fact, increasing enrollment rates in colleges and universities is a stated goal in dual credit program development at the state level. The Andrews (2001) research on Illinois is one of the earliest studies to document enrollment trends in a single state, with the Welsh, Brake & Choi (2005) research on the state of Kentucky also using raw data to indicate the successful integration of educational policy and practice: “ to help institutions meet the state's reform goals for access and achievement in higher education,” (p. 199). Similarly, the Chatman & Smith (1998) research shows how dual credit programs are linked with a number of measurable outcomes both at the student and the administrative level. Overall, then, the research has been promising showing that participation in these programs is a “strong predictor” of student enrollment in and completion of college education (Hoffman, Vargas & Santos, 2009, p. 44).
Research conclusively demonstrates the relationship between dual credit program participation and enrollments in community colleges, colleges, and universities, which in turn supports state funding due to the ability for the programs to meet their stated objectives.
State-specific data shows that 81% of high school graduates in Hawaii who have dual credits enroll in college, compared with 52% who do not (Lee, 2016). A related goal in promoting dual credit programs is to increase college and university enrollment mainly among underserved and underrepresented student populations: which is also borne out in empirical research. Economically disadvantaged students stand to benefit the most from Dual Enrollment/Early College, going to college at almost double the rate of their counterparts without dual credit (Trifonovitch, 2017). As Lee (2016) also points out, economically disadvantaged students with dual credits stay in college longer and have higher college completion rates, too.
In fact, a major theme in the literature is linked to the positive administrative outcomes associated with dual credit programs. Chatman & Smith (1998) show how dual credit programs actually improve financial management practices in the states in which they are implemented, allowing public schools and state-supported institutions of higher learning to better align their educational programs with their budgets. Through strategic partnerships, all educational institutions can participate in sensible and effective resource allocation, human resources development, and opportunities for improving the state economy through improvements to the business and labor markets (Chatman & Smith, 1998). Only a few books have been included in this literature review, one of which is Fincher-Ford’s (1996) preliminary assessment of dual credit programs. The Fincher-Ford (1996) material is instrumental for outlining measurement and assessment methods that state boards of education have subsequently incorporated into their operations standards. Operational and administrative issues are evenly covered in the last several decades’ worth of literature on how to best design dual credit programs. Structural and funding issues are covered in the literature, showing that strategic partnerships formed between the public and private sector, and also between government and non-governmental non-profit organizations is key. For example, high profile funders like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provide substantial support for Dual Enrollment and Early College, and funding may also be derived from similar organizations (Hoffman, Vargas & Santos, 2009).
Perceptions of Dual Credit
An interesting trend in the literature has been research assessing student perceptions and opinions on their experiences with dual credit programs. The research uses methods like self-report measures detailing student educational and career aspirations. For example, the Smith (2007) research surveyed hundreds of Kansas high school students from rural areas. Focus on rural populations is important in the literature on dual credit programs because rural students are traditionally underserved. The results of the Smith (2007) research show promising results with a “significant and positive relationship” between the programs and educational aspirations (p. 371). Research on student perceptions of dual credit programs also includes studies showing how these programs have improved the self-efficacy of high school juniors and seniors at a critical juncture in their educational careers. For instance, the Andrews (2004) research indicates that whereas high school students that did not have access to these programs may express bleak attitudes and pessimistic perceptions of their educational future, those who do have access to dual credit options identify educational and career goals with confidence and determination to succeed. The Ozmun (2013) study is even more instrumental in showing the directionality of the relationship between dual credit programs and student self-efficacy: students with higher self-efficacy were not necessarily more motivated or prone to enrollment in dual credit programs, whereas those who enrolled in dual-credit programs did exhibit a higher degree of self-efficacy.
Research on educator perceptions of dual credit programs is less conclusive than research on student perceptions. Some research shows that educators in both high school and college have mixed or ambivalent attitudes on dual credit programs. The most negative attitudes have been indicated in surveys of college instructors who “expressed their disdain” for teaching high school students they perceived as being ill prepared (Tobolowsky & Allen, 2016, p. 40). Research also shows these types of perceptions can be changed through teacher development (Andrews, 2004; Bailey & Karp, 2003, Smith, 2007).
While an abundance of research publications showcase the promising and direct causal relationship between dual credit programs and matriculation rates at colleges and universities, less research reveals the impact on retention rates. A major element promoting future research into how to better design, implement, and assess dual….....
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States Department of Education, 2017, p. 1). With this lofty goal set, it should seem that dual credit programs would be reducing the educational achievement gap. After all, dual credit programs by definition allow all students the opportunity to potentially shorten the amount of time they spend in college, thereby reducing their tuition fees that enable the completion of a degree program. Yet recent research shows that college enrollment and completion gaps may be getting wider, based both on ethnicity and on socioeconomic class (Gewertz, 2017). The results of the RAND study reported by Gewertz (2017) may not be applicable specifically to the state of Hawaii,… Continue Reading...
the financial burden they will face in university. Moreover, the dual credit programs have also increased college enrollment rates among Hawaii students (Inefuku, 2017). Not only do Dual Credit programs improve college readiness and admission rates, they also help prepare students for a more successful college career with higher rates of graduation and thus, improved overall educational and career outcomes. While Dual Credit programs are designed for all students, they can be of particular help to disadvantaged and underserved populations. The problem is that not all underrepresented students have access to Dual Credit programs, and not all Dual Credit programs… Continue Reading...
Early College: Building Support at Honolulu Community College,” I conducted reviews of literature on dual credit programs to better understand the issues and how we can make necessary changes to the educational environment or to policy initiatives. While most of the journey in creating the peace action plan consisted of roses of discovery and learning, inevitably there are thorns that indicate areas that need improvement or attention.
The thorns I identify include minimal real world, practical experiences in education leadership that might better inform my peace action plan. Although I interviewed individuals with tenure in the organization, I do not know how my own… Continue Reading...