The impact of a first year development course on student success in a community college: an empirical investigation
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This study focused on the impact of a Student Development Course (SDEV 0170), a part of an overall First Year Experience program at the college of interest, on the achievement and retention of participants. It examined the effect of the relationship of achievement (GPA) and retention (enrollment in a subsequent semester) to (a) the successful completion of the SDEV course, (b) the instructional method (face-to-face and online), (c) gender, and (d) ethnicity. This study included 1557 participants enrolled in the SDEV 0170 course: 1508 participants in the face-to-face course and 48 participants in the on-line course. The group was comprised of 47% males and 53% females with an ethnic breakdown of 2% Asian, 6% Black, 61 % Hispanic, and 24% White with the remaining 7% unreported. This study found that successful completion of the SDEV course was statistically significant with both achievement and retention. The impact of instruction method of the SDEV course was not statistically significant with either achievement or retention. The impact of successful completion of the SDEV course and gender had mixed results with achievement; however, the successful completion of the SDEV course and gender was not statistically significant with retention. The impact of successful completion of the SDEV course and ethnicity was statistically significant with both achievement and retention. Retaining current students, as opposed to recruiting new ones, is generally considered an economically sensible strategy. Beyond the financial considerations, institutions of higher education, especially community colleges with their open enrollment policies, have an implicit commitment to provide students with academic and social development in addition to supporting their transition to college. There is a need for the identification of programs that have demonstrated effectiveness in enhancing academic success and retention, which can be applied to similar populations at other institutions.
A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.