Academic journal article Summer Academe

Institutional Marketing Approaches, Student Decision Points, and Motivational Factors Affecting Student Decisions to Participate in Summer Session and Attend a Particular Institution

Academic journal article Summer Academe

Institutional Marketing Approaches, Student Decision Points, and Motivational Factors Affecting Student Decisions to Participate in Summer Session and Attend a Particular Institution

Article excerpt

Introduction

Why do students enroll in Summer Session? What are the most effective ways to market summer programs? When do students decide to enroll? What leads students to particular institutions for their studies? Summer Session directors ask these questions every year. Possible answers are proposed in the offices and halls of our institutions, while assumptions are often made based upon anecdotal information and--far less frequently--upon institution-specific survey findings. Despite the fact that answers to these questions should inform much of what we plan and do, little empirical research has been conducted to seek answers to these and other critical questions to support solid planning efforts. Many program directors and deans lament the lack of resources to adequately explore these issues, yet do not question how their current allocation of resources might be realigned to continually assess student motivations, trends affecting enrollment and patterns in decision-making behavior.

Purpose of Study

This study was designed to answer six major questions:(1) What are the motivational factors that influence an individual's decision to participate in Summer Session in general? (2) What motivational factors influence an individual's decision to attend Summer Session at a particular institution? (3) How do Summer Session students learn about opportunities to attend Summer Session? (4) At what point during the academic year do students decide to participate in Summer Session? (5) When do students select courses? (6) How do motivational factors affecting Summer Session participation compare between undergraduate students attending a private and a state-supported liberal arts college?

Review of Literature

The literature regarding Summer Session participation and related topics is quite limited. No studies were found that addressed when students make the decision to attend Summer Session or when they make decisions about course selection. A handful of studies were identified that address the concept of motivational factors that affect Summer Session attendance.

Patterson, et al. (1981) explored attitudes and characteristics of students attending Summer Session. They identified several reasons students choose to attend Summer Session at a particular institution, including the number of classes offered, location, and relatively low tuition. They also identified several reasons why students decide to attend Summer Session in general, including the desire to accelerate their academic progress, to make up academic deficiencies, for purposes of enrichment or self-improvement, for professional certification, and to take courses they were unable to schedule during the regular academic year.

Keller (1981) used an instrument consisting of 21 potential influences on student decisions to attend summer session. He included traditional academic reasons as well as non-academic reasons. His findings suggested most students attend Summer Session for the opportunity to accelerate progress toward a degree. Additional reasons included to maintain normal progress toward a degree, prepare more fully in their major field of study, take courses needed for advancement in their profession, or lighten academic load in succeeding semesters. Brook, et al. (1989) found the most frequently reported motivations for registering for Summer Session courses were to speed up degree completion or to ease students' course loads during the regular term.

Chandler and Weller (1995) studied students majoring in business and their motivations to attend Summer Session. This study attempted to identify reasons students attend Summer Session and underlying factors influencing their motivations. Four factors emerged that accounted for 39.9% of the variance and were labeled "Academic Issues," "Independence," "Finances," and "Summer School Academics." "Academic Issues" included such reasons as meeting grade standards, gaining admission without meeting regular admissions requirements, meeting prerequisites, repeating classes, graduating on time, or completing a minor or major. …

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