Title

The Possible Impact of Elements of Institutional Culture on Women Students' Higher Education Attainment in Hawaii

Authors

Carol A. Parker

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

12-2008

Abstract

Women in Hawai'i graduate at slightly higher rates than men at three of the four major institutions of higher education in Hawai'I (Institute for Women's Policy Research The Status of Women in Hawaii 2006) as compared to up to seventy-three percent of men at these same Hawaii institutions and compared to nearly eighty-five percent of women who enroll at women-only colleges.; With fewer than half of all enrolled women students at the four major Hawai'i institutions graduating it is important to understand the possible influences that may contribute to this problem -- one of which is observable institutional culture. Considerable research on the influence of elements of institutional culture has been done at most major institutions of higher education in the continental United States. However, little research is available at the four major institutions of higher education in Hawai'i on this topic as it relates to women students.; This dissertation attempts to recognize and assist in understanding elements of institutional culture on women's graduation rates at four multicultural coeducational higher education institutions in Hawai'i.; A study of elements of observable institutional culture, which appeared to affect higher education attainment (i.e. artifacts, values, basic assumptions and beliefs), was conducted through a review of literature in the fields of institutional culture, and higher education attainment in Hawai'i. A review and document analysis of publicly available data, publications, existing research analysis and secondary data analysis from sources that yield statistical data was undertaken to identify and explore observable elements of institutional culture at four major institutions of higher education in Hawai'i that may be associated with women's graduation rates in Hawai'i.; A constant comparative methodology was applied to the study to determine answers to the following questions:; 1. Using document analysis, what is revealed about elements of institutional culture (i.e., artifacts, values, basic assumptions and beliefs) at the four major institutions of higher education in Hawaii; University of Hawaii – Manoa, Hawaii Pacific University, Brigham Young University – Hawaii, and Chaminade University of Honolulu?; 2. More specifically, does document analysis hold any promise for revealing an association between elements of institutional culture at the four major institutions of higher education and women's graduation and retention rates?; The study focused on identifying and understanding the effect of three elements of institutional culture on women's higher education attainment in Hawaii. These specific elements were defined by: (1) mission (symbols, values & beliefs), (2) role models and mentors, and (3) female faculty/female student ratio. The four major institutions of higher education in Hawaii were selected on the basis of (1) WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation as a bachelor degree granting, not-for-profit, liberal arts university within the state of Hawaii; (2) a university recognized by the State of Hawaii Post Secondary Education Commission, and (3) NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) data participation. The four universities studied included one public research university, one private liberal arts college, and two religiously affiliated liberal arts colleges. All four universities had coeducational and multi-cultural student and faculty populations.; A profile was developed for each of the four universities using publicly available information and data from each university, WASC and NCES. The profile identified criteria by using a comparative approach to interpret the observable elements of institutional culture (i.e., artifacts, values, basic assumptions and beliefs) of these institutions. This was done by examining the observable artifacts (values, basic assumptions and beliefs) as found in their academic expectations; mission and history which support women; female role models; student body statistics; caring, supporting environment; opportunities for involvement; opportunities to learn about oneself; and actual educational attainment. The study will compare, contrast and connect the findings in order to show the differences between and similarities among the four major institutions of higher education in Hawaii, and to ascertain which elements of institutional culture may have the strongest impact on higher education attainment for their women students.; The results of this research should be interpreted with some caution, due to the small number of Hawaii institutions studied. Nevertheless, the results are thought provoking and suggest several possible associations that await support by additional studies.; First, the institutional culture at the four institutions differed in only the most general ways when it came to their stated mission and yet the difference in six-year graduation rates of women was substantial.; Second, a higher women students' enrollment rate by itself did not appear to be associated with higher graduation and retention rates.; Third, the ratio of women student to women faculty appeared to have a higher influence on graduation rates than the percentage of total woman faculty within the institution. It is surprising the degree to which this appears to be associated with women students' graduation rates at the four Hawaii institutions. There is much more to learn about the interaction of female students and female faculty within institutions that may explain this phenomenon.; This study was designed to present a better understanding of the possible effects that the elements of institutional culture at four major institutions of higher education in Hawaii have on women students' graduation and retention rates by finding one or two elements that may be more strongly associated with those same rates.; The study identified one characteristic, namely women student to women faculty ratio that appeared to be more highly associated with women's graduation and retention rates than the several others that were explored.; A second characteristic, which may be strongly associated, was that of a women's studies program or a women's center at the institution. The association of this characteristic was harder to observe since only one of the institutions had either a women's studies program or a women's center.; No other strong associations were observed among the four Hawaii institutions, and further, the influence of student socio-economic background and prior academic achievement on graduation and retention rates were not considered in this study. The study explored the literature which identified the most prominent elements associated with women's higher education graduation rates and retention at institutions not located in Hawaii.; By identifying the elements of institutional culture, which may be associated with women's higher education attainment in Hawaii, and by revealing the negative and positive aspects these elements have on women's education, schools of higher education, may profit from this study. Knowing more about the institutional elements of Hawaii's colleges could assist Hawaii's institutions of higher education in serving their women students better. It is hoped that increased understanding of these elements could lead to the development of unique policies and procedures that would increase women's higher education attainment within Hawaii.

Comments

UMI No. 3341900