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The Impact of a First Year Development Course on Student Success in a Community College: An Empirical Investigation

1Social Sciences, Northwest Vista College, San Antonio, USA

2Educational Leadership, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, USA

American Journal of Educational Research. 2014, Vol. 2 No. 6, 402-419
DOI: 10.12691/education-2-6-13
Copyright © 2014 Science and Education Publishing

Cite this paper:
Edgar Garza, Randall Bowden. The Impact of a First Year Development Course on Student Success in a Community College: An Empirical Investigation. American Journal of Educational Research. 2014; 2(6):402-419. doi: 10.12691/education-2-6-13.

Correspondence to: Randall  Bowden, Educational Leadership, Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi, USA. Email:


Virtually every institution of higher education in the United States is faced with the issue of student retention and success. The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a development course toward retention and academic achievement. Specifically, this study focused on the Student Development Course (SDEV) offered at a community college in central Texas, serving 15,000 students. The course focuses on both life skills and study skills, including familiarity with college regulations, communication and study skills, goal setting, priority management, reading for comprehension, note-taking, test-taking, creativity, establishing relationships, and the power of a positive attitude. The research design involved the analysis of existing transcript data that are maintained by the college in its student registration and information data base. Participants included 1557 first-time-in-college students who were required to take a college development course either on campus or online. Data were analyzed with analysis of variance, post hoc analyses, and bivariate correlations. Results were statistically significant. Students who took the developmental course tended to stay in college over a four term time frame. Additionally, it was statistically significant that they had grade point averages at a C or better. Gender was not statistically significant, however ethnicity was. This supports theory suggesting that comprehensive integration programs can lead to student success. Issues for future consideration should include quality of faculty instruction, external forces, academic advising, and student accountability. Finally, researchers could compare students who complete a first-year-in-college program at a community college and continue to four-year institutions.