WWC review of this study

The effects of non-compulsory freshman seminar and core curriculum completion ratios on post-secondary persistence and baccalaureate degree attainment (Doctoral dissertation).

Clouse, W. A. (2012). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3523633) Retrieved from: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED545944

  • Quasi-Experimental Design
     examining 
    8,290
     Students
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards with reservations

Reviewed: July 2016

Attainment outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Degree conferred at home institution

First Year Experience Courses vs. Business as usual

6 Years

College students;
8,290 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
9
More Outcomes

Degree conferred at any institution

First Year Experience Courses vs. Business as usual

6 Years

College students;
8,290 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
9
Credit accumulation and persistence outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
index

Persistence from first to third semester

First Year Experience Courses vs. Business as usual

3 Semesters

College students;
8,290 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
8

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 40%
    Male: 60%
  • Race
    White
    88%
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    West

Setting

The study was conducted at a large public university in the western United States using archival data extracted from the student records central information warehouse. Data from all first-time, full-time incoming freshmen enrolled in the fall semester from 1995 to 2005 were eligible for analysis.

Study sample

The authors reported baseline characteristics on the full sample. The mean age was 18.69 (SD=1.42). 60% of the sample was male and 88% of the sample was white. The average amount of need-based aid received over the first year was $1,035.74 (SD=$2,471.44).

Intervention Group

Students in the intervention condition chose to enroll in a credit-bearing freshman seminar course designed for first-time, first-semester freshman college students. The first year experience course was designed to help freshmen at the university transition from high school to college and included topics in the following three areas: academic, personal, and community. Academic components included study, communication, and technology skills; personal components included a focus on developing personal goals and responsibilities; and community components focused on developing relationships and learning opportunities outside the classroom. Each section generally included 15 or fewer students and was taught by one of several faculty members and one junior teaching assistant.

Comparison Group

Students in the intervention condition chose to enroll in a credit-bearing freshman seminar course for first-time first-semester freshman college students. The freshman seminar course was created to help freshmen transition from high school to college, adjust to university life, and succeed in college. While the goals of the program changed slightly over time, they always included a mix of academic, personal, and community goals. The course is taught by 2 to 4 faculty and/or instructional staff. Two different sections of the course are offered to students each fall. Each section is kept to a small number of students, generally 15 students or less. Topics covered include study skills development, orientation material, and personal goals development. Currently, the three main goals are aligned to personal goals, academic goals, and community goals.

Support for implementation

Implementation of the freshman seminar program was initiated by the college in 1993. The course is taught by 2–4 faculty and/or instructional staff. These faculty/staff are supported by teaching assistants who are selected from currently enrolled students. No information on training for instructors is reported.

 

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