Title

A study of student persistence as an outcome of participation in an extended orientation course

Date of Completion

January 1989

Keywords

Education, Sociology of|Education, Administration|Education, Higher

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

Extended orientation courses continue to be introduced as curriculum offerings that assist students to persist in postsecondary institutions. Research on the outcomes of such courses in terms of student persistence is, however, not proceeding at the same pace.^ The purpose of this study was to test the ideas of Tinto (1987) and Pascarella, Terenzini, and Wolfle (1986) and examine extended orientation as a contributing factor of persistence.^ The sample of the study consisted of 155 students who were members of the 1987 freshmen class of the University of Connecticut, Storrs. Fifty-seven (57) of these students elected to enroll in an extended orientation course, the "Freshmen Seminar: The Student and Higher Learning."^ Two hypotheses were tested to determine if differences existed between freshman students who elected to enroll in the "Freshman Seminar" and those who did not. Whether or not persistence in college, and other variables, could predict group membership as an enrolled or non-enrolled student was also examined.^ Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) total scores, predicted grade point average (GPA), first-semester GPA, and second-semester GPA, sex, and rate of persistence were used as discriminating variables. Discriminant function analysis, t-tests, chi-square tests, and descriptive statistics determined that SAT total score was the most powerful discriminating variable between the two groups at the 0.01 level. The SAT means of the enrolled and non-enrolled students were nearly a standard deviation apart, with the mean of enrolled students similar to the mean of students who leave college early (Astin, 1982, 1975). The groups persisted at almost identical rates, however, (95% vs. 95%) and persistence was therefore insignificant as a predictor of group membership. This led the investigator to conclude that enrollment in the extended orientation course was a beneficial experience that led to the high persistence rates among the enrolled students.^ Based upon the findings of the study, recommendations were made to investigate extended orientation efforts in several different contexts. ^