Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education


Deeb Paul Kitchen

Committee Member

Daniel Turner III


belonging, first - year experience, HBCU, orientation programs, retention, transition


This applied dissertation focused on understanding the perceptions of orientation professionals of the impact of orientation programming at public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). This study illustrates the effective practices of orientation programming and their impact on the retention of first – year African American students.

The theoretical framework that supported this study focused on challenge & support, retention, involvement, transition, belonging, and Black identity theory. The research study looked to understand orientation professionals’ perceptions of the impact of orientation programming at a public HBCU on the successful transition and retention of first-year students.

The qualitative multiple case study incorporated an interview protocol and documentation review for twelve participants who all supervise orientation programs. The research findings resulted in the elucidation of six themes which are: Theme 1: Impacting retention with trained orientation leaders; Theme 2: Impacting retention by connecting students to resources to impact barriers to first-year retention and transition; Theme 3: Impacting retention by understanding the role of orientation within first-year retention; Theme 4: Impacting retention by connecting parents to the student transition process; Theme 5: Impacting retention by utilizing effective orientation practices from the student affairs field; and Theme 6: Impacting retention by promoting community, history, and tradition to create belonging.

This research addressed how orientation programs create a sense of belonging for Black students as they transition into the college experience. Future recommendations to duplicate the study with private HBCUs and compare the experiences to public HBCUs. The recommendations presents opportunities to develop research based “best practices” for orientation practices within the HBCU space.

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