Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership


Community College Leadership

Committee Director

Alan M. Schwitzer

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Shana Pribesh


The purpose of this ex post facto study is to determine if a relationship exists between certain student success indicators and students completing an orientation course their first semester at a small, rural community college in comparison to those students who do not complete an orientation course their first semester. The study will compare three instructional methods used in teaching orientation; a two-day, ten-week, and distance learning format. This emphasis will identify the impact of the delivery format on success measures. The measures representing student success are retention from the fall to concurrent spring semester and grade point average (GPA).

Data were derived from records of first-year students over a three year period. Fall and spring semester data represented the freshman enrolling for the first time in the fall semesters of 2006, 2007, and 2008. The research tracked students enrolled in the fall into the subsequent spring semester. The population of this study included 1,398 students that were first-time, full-time students.

Findings of this study are quite different from most of the previous research related to freshman orientation. Results of this study found that a significant relationship does not exist between community college students enrolling in a freshman orientation course, in the fall semester and retention for the subsequent spring semester. However, a significant relationship does exist between community college students enrolling in a first-year orientation course in the fall semester and their GPA at the end of the semester. Findings also revealed that a significant relationship does not exist between the measures of GPA and retention and the instructional method of orientation. This unique study based on quantitative research investigates community college first-year student orientation at a rural community college. To determine if these results are unique to rural community colleges, future studies should replicate this one, but include campuses in other settings. In addition, qualitative studies of this topic could add to the body of literature.


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