Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Larry Ebbers


The purpose of this study was to examine and describe the extent to which student entry variables and student experiences influence student outcomes related to social and academic integration and student retention. A unique focus in this study centers around the development of a first-year experience course and its impact on student retention. Astin's input-environment-output model was utilized to determine the effects of various input and environmental variables.

This study was designed to contribute to the literature on developing a first-year experience course and the impact student variables and interactions can have on retention of community college students. Much of the research on the first-year experience course has come from 4-year colleges and universities.

The setting for this study was a small, Midwestern community college with a population sample of 890 first-time full-time students. Data were gathered from electronic student records providing demographic, financial aid, academic, and enrollment information. In addition, data were collected from the Fall 2012 administration of the Survey of Entering Student Engagement to provide information about students' level of academic and social integration in the early weeks of the semester.

Findings revealed that students who enrolled in the first-year experience course, the College Experience, and attended the precollege orientation session persisted to the subsequent term at a higher rate than did those who attended only one or neither. Results showed that only the student's fall grade point average is a significant predictor of retention. Students coded as Hispanic of any race had the highest odds of all variables of persisting to the spring term. Involvement in the TRIO program and enrollment in the College Experience course had a positive impact on fall-to-spring retention. Those who were academically unprepared and enrolled in a developmental English class also demonstrated modest gains in retention. The findings from this study provide needed insight for community college administrators as they work to increase student retention and success.


Copyright Owner

Barbara Jean Klein



File Format


File Size

154 pages