School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Mary Garzon


first-generation students, HBCU, learning communities, stop-out behavior, student retention, student success


Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Leadership | Higher Education | Higher Education Administration


Despite the growing importance of post-secondary degree attainment, existing research indicates that first-generation students (FGS) at 4-year colleges and universities are twice as likely as their peers to drop-out of school before their second year of study, and a great proportion of these students never return to complete their undergraduate degree. The present study collected and analyzed institutional data to determine the impact of three programmatic strategies on student retention and academic outcomes for FGS. The strategies are: lower/upper-level student integration, faculty mentorship, peer mentorship, and Communities of Learning (CoL). Each was investigated in the context of a student retention program at a historically Black College and university (HBCU) using multivariate analysis. The sample used for this study was 75 first-year, full-time FGS currently enrolled in the retention program at a private, 4-year institution. The results indicate that of the three retention strategies studied, faculty mentorship and students' participation in CoL activities most greatly impact their engagement. Additionally findings suggest that while none of the three strategies are direct correlates to retention, all three may act as mediators to improve engagement, which has been historically linked to retention.