Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

Showing Incoming Students the Campus Ropes: Predicting Student Persistence Using a Logistic Regression Model

Academic journal article Journal of Applied Research in the Community College

Showing Incoming Students the Campus Ropes: Predicting Student Persistence Using a Logistic Regression Model

Article excerpt

The present study examines the effect of taking a college orientation course on fall-to-fall persistence along with several other variables. Between 1976 and 2005 the National Center for Education Statistics reported a 50% increase in ethnic minority college enrollments, many of which are first-generation students. With this increase comes the challenge of assisting a population that has little or no knowledge of the college environment. To explore the effects of an orientation course at a community college, a logistic regression model was used. Results reveal that enrollment in the orientation course significantly predicts persistence to the second and third year when controlling for student demographics, initial skill level, academic performance, and other variables. Implications of the results are discussed.

Introduction

The importance of student persistence/retention from fall-to-fall as a factor in college success has been studied extensively (Astin, 1999; Pascarella, Smart, & Ethington, 1986; Tinto, 1988). In this line of research, several studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of orientation courses and programs to help increase student persistence (Derby & Smith, 2004; Pascarella, Terenzini, & Wolfle, 1986). According to the research, orientation programs improve students' chances of obtaining a transferrable degree and persisting in their academic careers. Tinto (1988) posits that "orientation programs are most effective when they stress forms of contact and mentorship that enable new students to become competent members of academic and social communities of the college" (pp. 451-452).

As the demographic makeup of college students continues to diversify and the number of first-generation college students and/ or minority students increases, colleges will have to do more to assist students who have little or no knowledge of the college environment. Tinto (1988) points out that these students will have the most difficulty adjusting to college. Therefore, an introduction to the college experience and the policies and procedures that influence a student's progress appear to be especially important for first generation and minority college students who have no prior experience with college - personally or vicariously through their parents. Given the importance of orientation programs, the purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of taking a college orientation course on the persistence rates of first-time enrolled students at a California community college.

Literature Review

There are several theoretical models that are used to characterize the patterns of persistence of students from year to year. Astin's (1999) Student Involvement Theory stresses the importance of active involvement in a student's college experience. His theory postulates that student involvement is a behavior that is characterized by active participation in various events (e.g. enrolling in a course) that can be situated along a continuum of involvement. Astin envisions student involvement as featuring both qualitative and quantitative elements in which the degree of learning and personal development is associated with the quality and quantity of that student's engagement in college experiences. What students do while they are in college affects how likely they are to persist; these factors include the amount of time students spend studying (Kuh, Cruce, Shoup, Kinzie, & Gonyea, 2008), the frequency of classmate/ faculty interactions (Leppel, 2002), and the completion of a college success course/ program (Moore & Offenstein, 2009).

In a similar vein, Spady's (1970) Model of Integration theorizes that dropout behavior is contingent upon the level of integration students experience at their institutions. He indicates that the level of integration is directly related to the chances of a student withdrawing; that is, the more integrated students are at the college, the less likely they are to withdraw. …

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