Effectiveness of the First-Year Experience program at the University of Northern Colorado in supporting student transition and success: An application of Tinto's theory of college student withdrawal.

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Learning communities and first year seminars are effective methods to decrease college student attrition rates. Understanding the mechanisms by which these programs influence students' re-enrollment decisions will provide tools for program evaluation, such that specific areas in need of improvement can be identified. A review of the literature on theoretical models of withdrawal identified a number of factors that influence attrition, and the Tinto theory of college student withdrawal was selected to guide program evaluation of the First-Year Experience Seminar at UNC. Items were developed to indicate how participation in the FYE seminar affected these factors, and a survey was administered to participants in the fall 2007 FYE seminar cohort. A chi-square analysis showed that UNC's FYE program was effective in retaining students from fall-to-spring, but that fall-to-fall semester retention did not differ for FYE and non-FTE participants. Analyses were also conducted to compare FYE courses according to class size and whether each course is major-focused and linked. The results showed that the strength of FYE program at UNC lies in the system of clustering or linking courses along a common theme for students who are interested in a particular major. In addition, a prospective model of retention of FYE participants was developed. In this model, institutional commitment and academic ability had direct effects on retention. Precollege institutional commitment, college goal commitment, and academic and social integration into the university indirectly influence retention. The results indicate that the FYE program at UNC is effective in increasing students' retention through its effects on students' perceptions of institutional commitment, social and academic integration, and goal commitment. Improvements would best be achieved by increasing students' institutional commitment through greater engagement with university activities and more frequent interaction with the faculty and staff. Finally, the administrators of the FYE program may also consider extending the FYE seminar across both semesters to have a stronger affect on fall-to-fall retention.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781109046601
  • Publisher: ProQuest LLC
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eTextbook
  • Pages: 142
  • File size: 468 KB

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