Perceived Impact of an Outdoor Orientation Program for First-Year University Students

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Journal of Athletic Training




Colleges and universities across the United States are struggling with student retention and attrition (Derby & Smith, 2004; Jacobs & Archie, 2008; Tinto, 1993). As a result, theoretically supported interventions designed to encourage retention and persistence are needed. The purpose of this study was twofold: (a) to intentionally create an outdoor orientation program based on supported retention factors and (b) to explore participant perceptions of the designed program. Data were collected via participant observation, participant field notebooks, and follow-up meetings. Findings suggested that at the completion of the program, participants perceived higher commitment to the university (I Love My University!); an enhanced transition to university life (Consequences Rather Than Lectures); emotional, social, and personal growth (Becoming Real); and positive relationships with sophomores, juniors, and seniors (My New Family and Friends). Connections to the literature, limitations, and implications for future research and practice are discussed.