Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Leadership, Foundations, and Human Resource Education

Committee Chair

Valentine, Jeffrey C.

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Gross, Jacob

Committee Member

Bukoski, Beth

Committee Member

Pregliasco, Bridgette


College student development programs; College freshmen--Research; Dropouts--Prevention


Previous research has shown that while nearly 40% of all students who enter postsecondary institutions leave without ever obtaining a degree, nearly two-thirds of students who persist to their second year eventually obtain a degree. Given the impact of the first year, a multitude of initiatives designed to promote first-to-second year persistence developed. The most popular initiative has been the first year seminar and particularly the extended orientation model of first year seminar. Given its prominence in the undergraduate curriculum, a large body of research has developed in recent decades investigating the first year seminar. However, the predominance of this literature has been conducted as single institution studies thus limiting the generalizability of previous findings. Therefore, in this study I used a systematic review and meta-analysis to move beyond information provided by single institution studies and gain a broader understanding of the overall effectiveness of extended orientation first year seminars. The results indicated that voluntary participation in an extended orientation first year seminar had a statistically significant, positive effect on first term GPA, first year GPA, and first-to-second year retention. For each of these three outcomes, a significant degree of heterogeneity was observed between study effect size estimates. Moderator tests did not identify patterns in this heterogeneity but did indicate that, for the first term GPA outcome, courses taught by faculty as opposed to teams of faculty and staff or staff alone were associated with larger effect sizes. Also, for the retention outcome, samples comprised of less than 75% White students yielded larger effects than did samples with greater than 75% white students. The implications of these findings for university administrators are also discussed along with suggestions for future research.

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