Outdoor experiential team -building and the college adjustment and persistence of freshmen in learning communities

Valerie Ann Morgan, Florida International University


Student retention is a primary goal in all higher education institutions. Students who are more adjusted to college life are more likely to persist. The purpose of this research was to determine the effects of an outdoor experiential team-building program on the college adjustment of first-semester freshmen in learning communities at a diverse, urban university. The participants in this quasi-experimental study were first-semester freshmen enrolled in learning communities. A total of 123 students participated, with 61 students in the experimental group and 62 students in the comparison group. There were no significant differences between the two groups in relation to age, gender, or ethnicity. The students in the experimental group participated in the team-building program, which consisted of three events spaced three and four weeks apart. At the end of the semester, students in both the experimental and comparison groups completed the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ), a 67-item self-report survey. Independent samples t-test of the SACQ scores (for attachment to the institution, social adjustment, and overall adaptation to college) between groups was done, and the analyses revealed no statistically significant differences. Chi-square analyses revealed no significant difference in the enrollment pattern between the two groups over a four-year period. Repeated measures ANOVAs revealed that from the first semester of enrollment to the second semester there was a significant drop in GPA for students from the comparison group and no such drop in GPA for students from the experimental group who had participated in at least two of the team building activities. A repeated measures ANOVA was conducted for the first year by semester and ethnicity. No ethnic differences were found, and no interaction was found by ethnicity and semester. Should colleges and universities continue to utilize outdoor experiential team-building programs as a creative way to influence students' connection to the institution they should further investigate its value on students' adjustment to college. Future studies should also consider other variables influenced by team-building programs that affect students' college adjustment, such as collaborative learning. Faculty should be included in the planning process to increase their participation.

Subject Area

Higher education|Academic guidance counseling

Recommended Citation

Morgan, Valerie Ann, "Outdoor experiential team -building and the college adjustment and persistence of freshmen in learning communities" (2005). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3206029.