DISSERTATION PROPOSAL ANNOUNCEMENT Ed.D. Program James Register: “Efficacy of Byrne First-Year Seminars at Rutgers University”
First-year seminars (FYS) were originally introduced as a formal course type in the early 1980s, and have become increasingly popular as a means to ease the transition from high school to college, and enhance undergraduate student success (Culver & Bowman, 2019; Porter & Swing, 2006). However, much of the extant literature on the efficacy of first-year seminars offers mixed results. This is because such FYS programs vary significantly in their design and implementation. Studies of individual FYS programs suggest that students can gain numerous benefits from participating when the seminars are tailored to specific institutional needs. Rutgers-New Brunswick implemented its own unique first-year seminar program in 2007 as part of a larger initiative to reorganize campus-wide operations and enhance the undergraduate experience.
This study seeks to answer the questions: What is the effect of the Byrne Seminars Program on the college experience and academic success of first-year undergraduate students? Are Byrne students more academically successful than their non-Byrne peers? Do Byrne seminars have an effect on first-year students’ sense of belonging at Rutgers? To what extent do first-year students believe that Byrne had a meaningful effect on their transition to university life and to their academic success at Rutgers? Using a framework of sense of belonging and social capital theories, this mixed-methods study analyzes program outcome data, student course evaluations, surveys, and focus group interviews to answer these questions.
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