Post-Secondary Engagement Influences Thriving and Retention

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Darcy Tessman


Levels of student engagement positively relate to feelings of belonging, retention, and graduation rates. This research examines student experiences utilizing high-impact practices at a rural institution in Oklahoma. Peer mentors lead student participants in two service-learning-based, co-curricular experiences to measure social competency and compare the perceived experience of students in a peer mentor role versus students in a mentee role. After each event, participants completed a retrospective post / pre-survey. The variables of confidence, competence, and connectedness were used to measure the percent change in social competency between groups. The Peer group showed a positive change in the measures of two variables and the Mentor group showed a positive change for all three. The results indicate support for the hypotheses that greater engagement increases social competency and retention until graduation.

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