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Michael D. Eisner College of Education

College of Education

Personnel Directory

Nathan Durdella

Nathan  Durdella
Assistant Professor
Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies
Office:ED 2234
Phone:818 677 3316
Email:nathan.durdella@csun.edu

Profile

Nathan R. Durdella is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Over the last decade, Durdella has served as a project evaluator on multiple federally funded projects, including two Title V projects and a Veterans FIPSE project, and currently serves as co-principal investigator and project evaluator for CSUN's Title V/HSI-STEM project in the College of Engineering and Computer Science. Durdella's current research focuses on college impact and uses qualitative research methods to examine community college transfer students of color in STEM fields, female single parent students, and students who are former foster youth. Durdella completed his doctoral training at the University of California Los Angeles, where his dissertation examined the effectiveness of responsive evaluation theory in community college contexts. Durdella currently serves as an associate editor of New Directions for Community Colleges and has published work in Higher Education in Review, Journal of Studies in Education, Community College Journal of Research and Practice, and Journal of Applied Research in the Community College.

Research

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Durdella, N.R. (2010, Spring). Evaluations that respond: Prescription, application, and implications of responsive evaluation theory for community college instructional support programs. Journal of Applied Research in the Community College 17(2), 13-23.

Abstract

This study examines two community college instructional support programs to explore the effectiveness of an evaluation model—responsive evaluation theory—that may ease the tensions between a concern over programs’ processes and reporting requirements for program outcomes. The study uses a comparative qualitative case study design and applies responsive evaluation’s prescriptive steps to assess the research questions: How effectively does responsive evaluation theory operate as an evaluation model? How does responsive evaluation theory articulate with systematic evaluation theories? Results indicate that responsive evaluation can be an effective model if evaluators consult program faculty and staff, who in turn express an interest in building a collaborative evaluation, and if the purpose of the evaluation is to examine process-oriented issues. Results further indicate that responsive and systematic evaluation models articulate well in that outcomes-oriented issues can be examined within the context of a responsive evaluation. Finally, results demonstrate that the responsive evaluation process can be highly politicized and, consequently, addresses the concerns of stakeholders to varying degrees.

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Sheldon, C.Q., & Durdella, N.R. (2010, January-February). Success rates for students taking compressed and regular length developmental courses in the community college. Community College Journal of Research and Practice, 34(1/2), 39-54.

Abstract

In recent years, developmental education in the community colleges has received much attention. However, there has been little research examining the relationship between course length and course success in developmental education. Using historical enrollment data from a large, suburban community college in southern California, this study examines the relationship between course length and course success in developmental education when social and academic background characteristics are controlled. The study hypothesized that there would be no significant or practical difference in success rates for students taking compressed (i.e., courses less than eight weeks in length) or regular length developmental English, reading, or math courses when social or academic characteristics are controlled. Results demonstrate that developmental course length was associated with statistically and practically significant differences in course success observed across all categories of age, gender, and ethnicity. Students enrolled in compressed-format courses were more likely to succeed than students enrolled in regular-length courses. Higher successful course completion rates for compressed courses were observed across all departments, with the highest successful course completion rates in eight week format in English. Further, students—irrespective of age, race, or gender—were more likely to successfully complete compressed format courses than their counterparts in regular length courses. Findings point to an educational benefit for students who enroll in compressed courses. Future research in this area includes an examination of students’ progress through a sequence of developmental education courses and a look into the effect of college experience and environment factors related to success in compressed courses.

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