Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.


Educational Leadership, Evaluation and Organizational Development

Degree Program

Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, PhD

Committee Chair

Gross, Jacob

Committee Co-Chair (if applicable)

Sun, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Sun, Jeffrey

Committee Member

Gittings, Glenn

Committee Member

Alagaraja, Meera

Author's Keywords

college student retention; academic integration; social integration; first year seminar; first semester college gpa; commonwealth of kentucky


Extant research has shown that across U.S. institutions, the first and second years of college are the most precarious because of high attrition rates. To address this, many colleges and universities implement First Year Experience (FYE) interventions with hopes of increasing first year GPA, retention rates, and overall college success. Over 90% of colleges and universities either offer or make these FYE interventions mandatory for their first-year/first-time freshmen. There is a large body of research regarding the association of FYE interventions and student outcomes, but the findings are mixed. Extant literature also does little to focus on FYE student outcomes based on race/ethnicity and gender, which is an identified gap and one this study fills. This dissertation is a quantitative examination of a FYE at the University of Louisville, GEN 101. GEN 101 is an example of a First Year Seminar (FYS). FYS courses are a type of FYE. The contextual framework of this dissertation is based on Tinto’s Student Integration Model and concepts of academic and social integration. GEN 101 is required for graduation. All incoming freshmen are encouraged to take it their first semester. Since this course is required and extant literature provides mixed findings about the efficacy of FYE courses, I analyzed associations between GEN 101 completion and first semester GPA along with fall-to-fall retention outcomes. My focus was how African American and Latino students fared in comparison to White students and how women fared in comparison to men. My study results suggested fall GEN 101 completion resulted in higher first semester GPA’s when compared with spring GEN 101 completion. It also suggested female students had a greater chance of being retained into their second year than their male counterparts, all else held constant. African American and Latino students had less of a chance of being retained than White students into their second year, but Latinos were retained at greater rates than African Americans. Taking GEN 101 in the fall was associated with greater outcomes than taking it in the spring and this association intensified when race/ethnicity and gender were considered. Specifically, being an African American male student was associated with greater FYE retention outcomes and being a male in general was associated with greater FYE GPA outcomes.