Navigation and social learning among first semester retained university students : exploration of programs and experiences at a comprehensive, public, open-enrollment institution
Retention is an important measure of success (Tinto, 1999); therefore, student success is an area of interest among professionals in the field of higher education (Hunter, 2006; Rendon, 1995). This qualitative study sought to understand how first-year students navigate the university and aimed to increase student success and support students to commencement exercises and beyond. Specifically, the study examined student experiences through social learning and considered the various programs, interventions, and resources that work together to support student success. Focus groups, one-on-one interviews, document analysis, and observations were conducted to collect ample data. Three themes emerged from the collected data: connection, intervention, and identity. Each of these themes revealed insights about the associations between college navigation and student success. Prior literature supported the idea that connection, intervention, and identity are tools of college navigation (Bruffee, 1999; Caldwell and Siwatu, 2003; Garrison and Kanuka, 2004; Harper, 2012; Smith, 2007; Umbach and Wawrzynski, 2005). Moreover, the literature acknowledged that students who use intervention support services to increase social learning reported higher levels of academic achievement (Caldwell and Siwatu, 2003; Grant-Vallone, Reif, Umali, and Pohlert, 2003; Wibrowski, Matthews, and Kitsantas, 2017). The findings of this study reaffirmed that higher education professionals, faculty, programs, and interventions occur simultaneously to increase student potential for successful college navigation; these resources are deeply connected and cannot support student success alone.
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