School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Richard Bragg


First Year Experience, Student Success, Higher Education, persistence, retention, student involvement theory




The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the persistence and retention after the First Year Experience (FYE) program for second-year college students at Northern Nevada College. The theory guiding this study is Astin’s student involvement theory which links student success in college to the level of involvement students have at their academic institution. This study explores how first-time full-time students being part of the FYE program have been encouraged to be involved at their institution on several levels. In this transcendental phenomenological study, data were collected using interviews, a focus group, and journaling prompts. After the data were collected, the information was transcribed and coded for analysis. The coding results have been used to identify common terms or phrases that describe the shared experience of the participants. These repeated coded terms lead to themes and subthemes describing the shared experience of these participants. Emerging themes included that the cohort structure helped students to develop friendships, the FYE program helped students to develop new study skills and habits, the FYE program helped students with their second year, and the FYE program increased their involvement on campus. Interpretations of these findings included that the FYE program can help students to make connections on campus, it can help students be more successful their second year, and using the cohort structure helps students in and out of class. Future studies should use the results of this study to expand student connections to the online realm, providing distance learning students with similar experiences of being involved. It is also recommended that the FYE program include a mental health component to help students deal with the stresses of life, especially when compounded with the college experience.

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