Effects of freshman orientation on academic achievement and student perceptions of the university environment
The purpose of the study was to examine differential effects, if any, which two types of sma.11-group continuing freshman orientation programs had on participant academic achievement and perceptions of campus environment. The initial research sample consisted of 155 students randomly selected from 328 freshmen entering Taylor University, Upland, Indiana, for the first time in the fall term, 1980. Fifty-two students were randrn1v selected to participated in three levels of continuing orientation. Level 1 involved participation in the Providing Relevant Opportunities and Building Experiences (PROSE) program at Taylor University. PROBE was a small-group continuing orientation program with a prescribed format and content. Level 2 involved participation in a small-group continuing orientation program in which neither format nor content were prescribed. Level 3 involved no participation in a continuing orientation program at Taylor University and served as the control group for the study.Following completion of the seven week orientation program, perceptions of research subjects about campus environment were measured by the college and University Environment Scales (CUES). Grade point averages of all subjects were obtained following completion of the fall term. The final sample was comprised of forty-nine students in each of the three experimental groups.Analysis of variance, with subsequent t-tests, where appropriate, were utilized to test three null hypotheses pertaining, to differences among groups on the post test criterion measure of student perceptions about the campus environment and three null hypotheses pertaining to differences on the post test criterion measure of academic achievement. All decisions with regard to significance were made at the .05 level.Findings of the study support the following conclusions regarding the effects of two types of continuing freshman orientation programs on academic achievement an perceptions of the campus environment at Taylor University:1. Students participating in a small-group continuing orientation program with a prescribed format and content do not perceive the campus environment any differently than non-participants.2. Students participating in a small-group continuing orientation program without a prescribed format and content do not perceive the campus environment any differently than non-participants.3. Students participating in a small-group continuing orientation program with a prescribed format and content do not perceive the campus environment any differently than students participating in a small-group continuing orientation program without a prescribed format and content.4. Participants in a small-group continuing orientation program achieve a higher grade point average than non-participants, regardless of whether the format: and content are prescribed b y the university.Application of the findings were extended for observations beyond the scope of the original research. One such observation involved speculation regarding the role of the small-group format in the improvement off participant academic achievement.Results of the study suggest that participation in a continuing orientation program with a small-group format contributes to academic achievement. The results further suggest that such an improvement in academic achievement occurs irrespective of the format or content of the small-group continuing orientation program. Implications which might be drawn from such results include the following:1. The small-group process as utilized in the continuing orientation program contributes to increased academic achievement.2. Format or content of small-group continuing orientation programs are not a contributing factor to increased academic achievement.Further research to determine the differential effects, if any, of the small-group process compared to alternative processes in continuing orientation is needed to empirically support or refute such statements.