Ed.D. Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


College of Education



Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.

Faculty Chair

Barbara Weschke, Ph.D.

Content Specialist

Dana Sims Barbarick, Ph.D.

Content Reader

Latrice Alagbala, Ph.D.


online, orientations, graduate level, retention, non-mandatory, online learning, distance-education, retention, completion, online orientation programs, student success, attrition


This mixed-methods study targeted one semester of 428 graduate-level students in the fall of 2016 who completed, or did not complete the five quizzes in a non-mandatory, online orientation to determine the impact of the orientation from enrollment through first-course retention. From the total population of 428 graduate-level students’ contact information, 53 students were not found in any orientation, but were listed as completing their first course, and were removed, resulting in 375 students who received a weekly email over a five-week period with a link to voluntarily participate in the study. This resulted in a convenience sample of 108 students included those who agreed to participate in the study. As noted in the study, 110 of 375 students completed orientation within the semester, while 265 of 375 students did not complete the orientation, with 71 of 108 non-completers who agreed to participate in the study compared to 37 of 108 completers. Phone interviews were established from 5 of 8 students from the convenience sample who did not complete their online orientation and who failed their first course. Student completion of the orientation was compared to first-course retention rates, and a generalization of Fisher’s Exact Chi Square used to evaluate the efficacy of the orientation program on retention with the grade of an A or B at the graduate level. This allowed for an exact analysis of tables with more than two rows and/or columns, and evaluated whether orientation completers and non-completers differed in their perceptions of the online master’s program orientation, academic performance, and subsequent retention from enrollment through the end of their first course. The quantitative data revealed that the generalization of Fisher’s Exact chi square analyses showed no statistical significance.



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