Skip to main content

First Year Initiative's impact on developmental students' re-enrollment and course success at a community college (Rogers 2015)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Rogers, S. S. (2015). First Year Initiative's impact on developmental students' re-enrollment and course success at a community college. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). Wilmington University, New Castle, DE

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the First Year Initiative (FYI) program on community college students’ re-enrollment rates and successful completion of developmental math and reading courses.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the FYI program to eligible students who did not participate in the program.
  • When compared to non-participating students, the study found that FYI program participation was associated with significantly higher re-enrollment rates and significantly lower successful course completes rates.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the FYI program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

The First Year Initiative (FYI) program

Features of the Intervention

In Fall 2013, the First Year Initiative (FYI) program was implemented at a community college with multiple campuses. First time, full-time students who earned low scores on the ACCUPLACER college placement exam and were required to complete developmental courses were eligible for the FYI program. Specifically, students who enrolled in the FYI program took four linked courses in a learning community model for 12 credits. This included pre-algebra (four credits) and improving college reading skills (four credits), plus two additional courses designed to help developmental students succeed in their developmental courses and re-enroll (first year success for 3 credits and leadership success for one credit). FYI students also received academic support services including tutoring, a college mentor, and career exploration services.

Features of the Study

The author used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the FYI program with eligible students who declined to participate in the program. Students in the comparison group took only the pre-algebra and improving college reading skill courses. The analysis sample included a total of 191 students; 82 students receiving the FYI program and 109 comparison students. Outcomes included re-enrollment rates for the Spring 2014 semester and successful course completion rates (defined as receiving a passing or outstanding grade in the pre-algebra and improving college reading skill courses). Using school administrative records, the author conducted chi-square statistics to examine differences between the groups.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study found a significant relationship between FYI program participation and re-enrollment, with higher re-enrollment rates in the treatment group (84.1%) than the comparison group (67.0%).
  • The study found a significant relationship between FYI program participation and successful completion in both developmental math and reading courses, with lower successful course completion rates in the treatment group (91.5%) compared to the comparison group (94.6%).

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

The author did not account for other factors that could have affected the difference between the treatment and comparison groups, such as pre-intervention degree of financial disadvantage. These preexisting differences between the groups—and not the FYI program—could explain the observed differences in outcomes.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the author did not ensure that the groups being compared were similar before the intervention. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to FYI; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

January 2020

Topic Area