Use of Adventure-Based Programs to Aid in Retention

Thursday, April 25, 2013
Exhibit Hall Poster Area 2 (Convention Center)
Carol A. Smith, Elon University, Elon, NC and Nestor W. Sherman, Texas A&M UniversityKingsville, Kingsville, TX

Background/Purpose Retention of students is a crucial issue for institutions of higher education that cuts across all campuses. The purpose of this study was to investigate if an adventure based transition program would enhance the retention from first to second year of undergraduate students.

Method The program consists of a 5-day adventure based experience (camping, low ropes course, hiking, rock climbing, and a white water rafting trip). Students from 6 years of the summer program were tracked to determine their persistence rate into their sophomore year. There were a total of 336 students in the adventure program, and 7280 students served as controls. Data was run via Chi Square Analysis. The following were calculated and assessed in order to find a comparison between retention rates in the adventure program participants and all other first to second year students at the targeted institution.

Analysis/Results The Pearson chi-square analysis revealed a significant (X 2(1) = 5.951, p = 0.015) difference between observed and expected frequencies for sophomore retention for the adventure based learning group. Of the 336 students in that program, there was an expected sophomore retention frequency of 300 students, whereas actually 314 were retained. Within the control group, there was 6499 students retained; however it was expected through the analysis that 6512 would be retained.

Conclusions The participation in the adventure education program significantly influenced the retention rate from first to second year. It is recommended that continue investigation into this program be conducted; and a more longitudinal comparison be considered.

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