Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Winter 2015

Abstract

Undergraduate research experiences have become a widely accepted goal of colleges and universities for enhancing student development and success. Texas Southern University (TSU) is an Historically Black College and University (HBCU) with approximately 6,000 undergraduate students and as with most HBCUs, retention and graduation rates are extremely low. This study addresses the relationship between undergraduate research at TSU and progression, graduation rates and GPA. The experimental population includes 34 students that participated at a 10-week undergraduate research program (URP) during the summers of 2012 or 2013. The control group was selected from the 2006 freshmen class (n=268) admitted to the College of Science and Technology (COST). Two control groups were utilized: Group I (n=128, GPA 3.12) based on a minimum GPA of 2.5 or greater for the fall 2006 semester; Control Group II (n=65, GPA 3.22) was a subset of Control Group I of students who remaining registered at TSU from Fall 2006 to Fall 2008. Progression (p < 0.0001) and six-year graduation rates (p < 0.0001) were significantly increased in students who took part in the URP program. Although initial fall freshmen GPAs were not different in URP and control subjects, we found significantly higher cumulative GPAs for URP students relative to Control Group I (p < 0.0001) and Control Group II (p < 0.003). Racial composition, gender and majors of our participants were excluded as significant factors contributing to these results. Our results support the importance of mentored undergraduate research experiences at HBCUs.