Increasing student retention and improving graduation rates continues to remain a critical issue for undergraduate institutions. Previous research suggests that student attrition is predominantly voluntary, and is influenced by institutional characteristics. The importance of academic and social integration as a strategy to reduce attrition is achieved with peer and faculty interactions (Tinto, 2002; Astin, 1993). First Year Seminars (FYS), designed to help students in their transition and promote such interactions, are in place at many higher education institutions. The purpose of this ex-post-facto, sequential mixed- methods study is to ascertain the influence of FYS attendance on student integration, academic achievement, and retention.
This study focused on a voluntary, not for credit sample of freshman (N = 99) participants who responded to an online survey. Respondents were assigned to two groups, Group A attended 5 or less (n = 37) and Group B (n = 62) attended six or more sessions.
Data analysis revealed that while the mean scores for Group B were greater than Group A, there were no statistical differences in the academic integration between Group A (M = 5.12, SD = 1.58) and Group B (M = 5.39, SD = 1.31); t = (95) = -.919, p = .176. Social integration measures provided similar results, Group A (M = 5.35, SD = 1.34) and Group B (M = 5.66, SD = 1.12), t = (96) = -1.206, p =.267. GPA comparisons between Group A ( M = 2.90, SD = 0.724) and Group B (M = 3.00, SD = 0.078), t (97) = -0.745, p = 0.46 reported no statistical differences. Retention for Group B (75.8%) was higher than Group A (64.9%); but chi-square analysis revealed no significant statistical differences X2 (1, n = 99), P = 0.24. Results of the regression analysis found no statistical significance of academic, social integration, and GPA contributing to retention.
Qualitative analysis revealed that Group B's attendance in FYS provided them greater opportunities for campus involvement, whereas Group A cited the non-mandatory nature of the course and lack of credit as to why they did not attend. Results provide higher education personnel with a greater understanding of the First Year Seminar and its institutional value.
|Commitee:||Gray, Gary, Sepe, Thomas D.|
|School:||Johnson & Wales University|
|School Location:||United States -- Rhode Island|
|Source:||DAI-A 72/04, Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Academic achievement, Academic integration, First-year seminar, Mixed methods, Retention, Social integration|
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