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Keywords

undecided students, first-year seminars, learning communities

Abstract

Undecided undergraduate students are often considered to be "at risk" for lower academic performance and lower retention rates than students with declared majors. First-year seminars and learning communities are two interventions the retention literature suggests can enhance the success of at-risk students. This paper summarizes the development, implementation, and preliminary assessment of an intervention directed toward undecided first-time-in-college (FTIC) students at University of North Texas. The intervention consists of enrollment in a first-year seminar or in a first-year seminar which is part of a learning community. The paper has three sections. The first section briefly summarizes the literature on undecided students, first-year seminars, and learning communities. The second section outlines the intervention including development of the seminar and the course pairings. The paper concludes with a summary of the success outcomes—GPA, percentage in good academic standing, and retention to the subsequent academic semester—for the students involved in the two interventions and a comparison group of undecided students. Preliminary data suggest better outcomes for students participating in the interventions than in the control group, but the study raises important questions about further research. The third section also includes recommendations for research and practice.

Dale R. Tampke is Dean of Undergraduate Studies and a Research Associate Professor-Counseling and Higher Education at University of North Texas in Denton, Texas.

Raifu Durodoye is currently a Ph.D. student at the Center for Public Administration & Policy at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, VA.