Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


Economic and fiscal challenges, increased public scrutiny, and calls for accountability from stakeholders necessitate that community colleges work diligently to improve student success outcomes. Programs, services, and initiatives need to be developed and implemented that will increase student retention. Orientation is an important intervention service that can help new students to acclimate and make a more successful transition to college. There is a need to study programs that increase student success, and new student orientation programs have demonstrated their promise in reducing student attrition. This quantitative study examined a first year new student orientation program at a rural community college in Appalachia and its impact on term-to-term retention for credential seeking students.

Academic and other non-academic information for all first-time, full-time status incoming students in the Fall 2010 were collected and compared between those students who participated in the Academic Orientation Program (AOP) and those who did not. Data utilized to measure student success outcomes were cumulative grade point average, total credit hours earned, the number of credentials earned, as well as term-to-term persistence and retention rates for both groups over a two full academic year period. Independent samples T-tests were performed as well as linear regressions, both of which resulted in positive findings that showed the overall positive impact of the AOP on student success. Implications for policy development, best practice, and further study are discussed, and an example of the AOP curriculum plan is provided in the appendix.