Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Wallace Southerland, III


Freshmen Interest Groups (FIG) programs 'peer support systems for entering students at a public university in the northeast' were believed to contribute to positive retention outcomes, but had not been evaluated to determine their impact on student retention. The rationale for this project study was the absence of formal evaluations to determine retention program effectiveness. The results are important to enrollment management staff and academic program coordinators whose job responsibilities are tied to student retention. Bean's nine themes of college student retention provided the conceptual framework for this study. Research questions considered the likelihood that retention and persistence to graduation outcomes are based on FIG participation, and the likelihood of retention when controlling for the nine themes. Regression analysis examined existing data on a sample of 4,098 students who started at the local campus and should have returned for the 3rd semester. Results showed that participation in the FIG increased the odds of retention by a factor of 1.37, and the odds of persistence by a factor of 1.74. Five of the nine themes 'students' intentions, first-year GPA, housing status, school of enrollment, and ethnicity' had a significant impact on the likelihood of students' retention at the study site. The project study results informed an evaluation report which presents findings and offers recommendations to the administration at the study site. Understanding and promoting student retention and success is of utmost importance to those striving to affect social change through education, and a clear understanding of opportunities to support the development of responsible, productive, and prepared students have both local and far-reaching social change implications.