Academic interventions and students’ success for conditionally admitted students during the COVID-19 pandemic: A qualitative study at one university

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Borcherding, Emily R
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Doran, Erin
Gansemer-Topf, Ann
Prince, Angela
Thornton, Zoe
Brown, Michael
Committee Member
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Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
This qualitative case study examined the efficacy of one university’s academic interventions in support of conditionally admitted (CA) students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective was to gain insights into how academic interventions changed for CA students and how the students used academic interventions during COVID-19 at one four-year institution. The study sought to better understand the unique challenges CA students faced while pursuing higher education during the pandemic, as well as what contributed to their success. This study generated recommendations for universities to implement to improve student learning and retention and to help meet institutional enrollment goals. Interviewees included CA students at the university, administrators, and instructors of a college success class for CA students. While students experienced some positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, other problems were exacerbated. The semi-structured interviews revealed themes including the importance of CA academic interventions, the importance of meaningful connections, and the “new normal” for students regarding flexibility in their coursework during the pandemic. The importance of academic interventions and meaningful connections appeared throughout interviews with all of the respondent groups, but the groups responded differently to the pandemic-driven shift that put temporarily students more in control of policies, namely, although students now expect more freedom for deadlines, work hours, and course modality, instructors and administrators are returning to more rigid policies, boundaries, and deadlines. The implications for practice from the study include an argument for continuing support for academic interventions for CA students when things normalize post-COVID-19, changing the delivery method of some academic interventions services from in-person to online or hybrid, and further exploring what experiences students have with these educational interventions.