Publication Date

Summer 2015

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Randy Capps (Director), Tony Norman, and Renae Duncan

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


With approximately half of all students who enter colleges and universities graduating, the problem of student attrition continues to challenge higher education officials. Decades of research studies have been completed on the causes of student persistence and retention, but significant changes have not occurred to increase those numbers. This study attempted to integrate current research with a practical application to increase retention of first-year students. A first-year seminar, known as a student success seminar, was created at the university to teach advanced academic behaviors to incoming freshmen. This study involved a program evaluation of the new seminar as the independent variable and examined the results of those who participated in the seminar (SSS) and those who did not (No SSS). The design compared the two groups of students on five quantitative and two qualitative questions. The quantitative research included second semester retention, grade point average, completion of credit hours, pass rate of a freshmen transitions course, and academic and social integration to campus. The social and academic integration of the students was measured using the Institutional Integration Scale (IIS). The qualitative research included determining whether the students who participated in the seminar had a more positive perception of their overall college experience and an increased confidence in their ability to do well at the university. The study found: (a) no statistically significant difference between the two groups in second semester retention, mean grade point average, credit hours completed, and social integration to the campus. An inverse relationship was found regarding the pass rate of the freshmen transitions course, in which the No SSS students passed at a higher rate then the SSS students. In the area of academic integration, the SSS group showed a statistically significant difference in academic integration to campus, including visiting the library and the multicultural center more often. Additionally, the SSS group indicated a more positive perception of their overall college experience and possessed an increased confidence in their ability to do well in college.


Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research