The Relationship Between First-Year Experience Classes And The Academic Success Of Pell Grant Recipients
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentEducation and Urban Studies
ProgramDoctor of Education
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The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between the completion of a first-year experience (FYE) course and the success of first-year community college Pell grant recipients in meeting the federal satisfactory academic progress (SAP) standards required to maintain financial aid eligibility (U.S. Department of Education, 2010c). Recipients of federal Pell grants are low-income students who are at risk for dropping out of school (Schudde & Scott-Clayton, 2014; Wei & Horn, 2009). FYE programs are one of the “high-impact practices” community colleges use to help students successfully negotiate the college environment (Kuh, 2008). This longitudinal study investigated the relationship between completing a FYE course and meeting the annual course completion rate requirement for federal SAP. Data from two groups of first-year students who entered Mid-Atlantic Community College (MAC) in academic year 2007-08 without prior college experience were included in this study. One group was composed of students who completed the FYE course in the fall 2007 semester. The second group consisted of students who did not enroll in the elective course in fall 2007. The two groups were followed for three academic years through the end of the spring 2010 semester. The results of the data analysis in this study found a significant difference in fall-to-fall retention between first-year Pell grant recipients who participated in a first-year experience course and first-year Pell grant recipients who did not participate in a first-year experience course. However, there was no relationship between the completion of the first-year experience course and academic performance (i.e., GPA) or meeting the course completion rate requirement of SAP over a three-year period. This suggests that participation in a FYE class was not a sufficient factor to affect GPA or course completion for this group of students even though FYE completion did demonstrate a significant relationship with retention. The results from this study contribute to the literature on the relationship of FYE completion and the academic success of Pell grant recipients, and this study presents recommendations to increase the understanding of practices that help low-income students succeed academically and persist to graduation.