## Relationship of FYI Factors and Persistence

### Quick Findings

Research suggests that helping students establish a sense of belonging is the number one predictor of their decision to persist to their second year.

### Overview & Methodology

The purpose of this study was to determine which factors on the First-Year Initiative (FYI) survey* best predicted student persistence to the second year of college. The FYI is a nationally benchmarked instrument used to measure the effectiveness of a first-year seminar. The data were collected through a web-based survey at the end of the fall 2008 semester from students enrolled in University 101 at the University of South Carolina. 2,014 completed the survey, yielding a response rate of 72%. Responses from the FYI survey were matched with information from the student data file (persistence and first-year grade point average) to provide additional outcomes to measure student success. After eliminating missing data, 1,446 students remained in the analysis.

EBI**, who administered and disseminated the data, created 15 factors from a series of questions on the FYI survey. These 15 factors represent a number of vetted good practices and campus initiatives that are grounded in theoretical and empirical evidence. To predict the effectiveness of these factors on persistence into the second year, a series of logistic regressions were conducted. A number of control measures – gender, race, and high school grades– were introduced into the model to isolate the effect of each factor on student persistence. Because of the high multicollinearity between the 15 factors, each factor was introduced into the model separately. When a regression model has high multicollinearity, this suggests that the independent variables (i.e., the 15 factors) are highly correlated with one another. The relationships between each factor and the dependent variable (i.e., persistence) become inflated and magnify the differences between coefficients. As such, each factor was introduced into the regression model separately to measure the unique relationship between the factor and persistence.

### Findings

The regression analyses yielded significant effects on two factors – (1) __Sense of Belonging & Acceptance__ and (2) __Overall Satisfaction with the University__. **A standard deviation increase in Sense of Belonging & Acceptance increased the odds of persisting into the second year by 38% (p < 0.001), holding all other variables constant**. On a scale from 1 – 7, the mean was 5.62 – with 95% of the students measuring between 5.55 – 5.69 – and a standard deviation of 1.33. **Furthermore, a standard deviation increase in Overall Satisfaction with the University increased the odds of persisting into the second year by 94% (p < 0.001), holding all other variables constant**. The mean for this factor was 5.74, with 95% of the students measuring between 5.68 – 5.80, and a standard deviation of 1.23.

It is important to note that the mean for each factor was relatively high. This suggests that students who participated in the survey had a high Sense of Belonging and Acceptance and Overall Satisfaction with the University. Moreover, the standard deviations for each factor were low, indicating low variability between the scores on each factor. In other words, very few students indicate having a low Sense of Belonging and Acceptance and a low Overall Satisfaction with the University. The extent to which we can surmise that the seminar is having a positive effect on these outcomes cannot be determined because we do not have complementary data for students who did not participate in the course.

However, this should not deter from the overwhelming significance that Sense of Belonging and Acceptance and Overall Satisfaction with the University have on student persistence. Moreover, these data suggest that efforts targeted towards enhance students’ Sense of Belonging and Acceptance and Overall Satisfaction with the University will increase their likelihood of persisting into the second year.

*In 2013, the First-Year Initiative (FYI) survey was revised and renamed the First-Year Seminar Assessment (FYSA).

**In 2015, EBI changed its name to Skyfactor.