retention, gateway courses, learning community, high-impact practices


College student performance and retention have been areas of concern for higher education for decades, and increasingly so over the last quarter century. This study explores how creating a learning community comprised of a first-year seminar and two disciplinary gateway courses across two semesters affected student performance in the gateway classes and in student retention. The study found three things of interest: 1) participation in a learning community and in a residential learning community each slightly improve the likelihood that a student will enroll in the second semester; 2) performance in Introduction to Business, a disciplinary gateway course, is highly predictive of both retention across multiple semesters and performance in challenging gateway courses in the second semester; and 3) students participating in the learning community performed better than did non-learning community students in a challenging gateway course.

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