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An evaluation of an urban community college Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program (Doctoral dissertation) (Rice 1999)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Rice, L. M. (1999). An evaluation of an urban community college Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program (Doctoral dissertation). Old Dominion University. DOI: 10.25777/tqh7-3c76

Highlights

  • The study's objective was to examine the impact of the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program on education outcomes by students at an urban community college.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of program participants to those on the waiting list. Using data from the community college’s Students Information System, the author conducted statistical tests to examine the differences between groups.
  • The study found that participation in the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program was significantly related to increased retention rates and number of credits taken.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program

Features of the Intervention

Single parents, particularly women living in urban areas, experience difficulties in entering and continuing college. In the mid-1980s, the federal government set aside funding for Single Parent Displaced Homemaker programs that provided single parents with supportive services to address their difficulties. An urban community college built a Regional Women's Center in 1994 after receiving Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program funds. The Center provided mostly female single parents, single pregnant women, and displaced homemakers, direct support, such as support groups, financial assistance, and crisis intervention, and indirect support, such as job placement and financial aid.

Features of the Study

The nonexperimental study was conducted in an urban community college with campuses in five southeastern cities: Portsmouth, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and Suffolk. The author used a population of students who had applied to and entered the Center’s Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program and a population of students who had applied and were placed on a waiting list between Spring 194 and Fall 1997. To be eligible for the program, students needed to be single mothers or displaced homemakers (although one male was included). All program participants had completed a GED or equivalent, while most had at least one child and were on public assistance.

Random sampling was used to select program participants and students on the waiting list for evaluation. Students who were placed on the waiting list met all the criteria for entrance into the program. The treatment condition was a sample of 100 students who had applied to and been accepted into the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker program. The comparison group was a sample of 100 students who had applied to and had been placed on the waiting list. Using data from college’s Students Information System, the author compared the outcomes of program participants to those on the waiting list using statistical tests. Outcomes included the number of consecutive semesters completed and number of credits taken.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study found a statistically significant relationship between participation in the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program and college retention rates. Participants were retained an average of 3.29 consecutive semesters after program enrollment, compared to 1.05 semesters for the comparison group.
  • The study found a statistically significant relationship between participation in the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program and credits taken. Participants took an average of 30.02 credits after program enrollment, compared to 25.9 credits semesters for the comparison group.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The author did not account for preexisting differences between the treatment and comparison groups before program participation, such as age, race/ethnicity, gender, a pre-intervention measure of financial disadvantage, or a pre-intervention measure of education. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program—could explain the observed differences in the outcome. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the Single Parent and Displaced Homemaker Program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2021

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