Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling
Extended orientation courses continue to be introduced as curriculum offerings that assist students to persist in post-secondary institutions. Research on the outcomes of such courses in terms of student retention and achievement is, with regard to race, however, not proceeding at the same pace as orientation course research in general. The purpose of this study was to apply the attrition models of Tinto (1987) and Pascarella, Terenzini, and Wolfe (1986) and examine extended orientation as a contributing factor to the retention and achievement of African-American engineering students. The sample of the study consisted of 354 African-American students who were members of the 1990-95 freshmen engineering classes of Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. One hundred and seventy-five of these students elected to enroll in an extended orientation course, Engineering 1050. Three hypotheses were tested to determine if differences existed between African-American freshmen engineering students who elected to enroll in the course and those who did not. The groups were compared on (a) retention rate, (b) academic achievement, and (c) graduation rate. The hypotheses examined the relationship of the perceived assistance of the course and the actual academic achievement of Engineering 1050 participants. Pre-enrollment characteristics that were used as independent variables included The American College Test (ACT) composite score, the high school grade point average, and gender. Retention rate, academic achievement, and graduation rate were used as dependent variables. T-tests, Chi-square tests, and descriptive statistics determined that ACT and GPA mean scores of the participants were generally higher than nonparticipants, but the differences were not statistically significant. The groups persisted at about the same rate, and although the academic achievement of the enrolled students was higher than that of the non-enrolled students, the differences were not statistically significant. The graduation rate of the 1990 cohort was statistically significant for the course participants. The qualitative study involving four students that participated in the course showed a parallel between their perceptions of the helpfulness of the course and their academic achievement. This led the investigator to conclude that enrollment in the extended orientation course was a beneficial experience, at least for the four students involved. Based on the findings of the study, recommendations were made to investigate extended-orientation efforts in several different contexts.
Smith, Forest Dent, "Orientation Effects on African-American Engineering Students: The LSU Case." (1997). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6600.