Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Second Advisor

Tara Shepperson

Third Advisor

James R. Bliss


This study examined the impact first-year experience courses have on first-year student performance when enrolled in these courses at public community and technical colleges in Kentucky. The target population for this research study was composed of freshman students participating in the course compared to students not participating in the same course in the same public community and technical colleges across the Bluegrass Region. Roughly 2,000 students were selected from the 2014-2015 fall academic year for this quantitative research study.

This study will aim to determine the effect of a first-year experience course on student performance and outcomes of first-year, at-risk students. The following dependent variables will be evaluated in this study and used to operationalize student academic success: (1) number of credit hours successfully completed at the end of the first year; (2) first-year retention rates; and (3) first-year GPA.

Only student data from public community and technical colleges in Kentucky were utilized for this study. The student population assessed consists of diverse backgrounds of individuals based on: pre-college entry characteristics (i.e., socioeconomic status; gender, age, first-generation status, college-readiness; race; and ethnicity); program participation in FYE105; and first-year student academic outcomes (i.e., number of credit hours at the end of the first year; first-year grades; first-year GPA; and first-year retention rates).

A causal-comparative research design was best suited for this study because of the nature of the attributes measured. The primary analytic method was an Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA). An Analysis of Covariance was run to compare the academic achievement between first-year, full-time FYE participants and first-year, full-time non-FYE participants after controlling for pre-college entry characteristics. Students participating in FYE105 and non-FYE105 participants were tracked in cohorts through the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.