Document Type


Date of Award



School of Communication (SOC)

Degree Name

MA in Communication

First Advisor

James W. Ward


There are two significant concerns in the academic community: (1) a significant number of students fall below university academic standards; and (2) the declining retention rate of these students. Research on student retention and attrition suggests that contact with a significant person within an institution of higher education is a crucial factor in a student's decision to remain in college (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Glennen, Farren, & Vowell, 1996). Studies have shown that a student's sense of belonging is directly related to their persistence, or decisions made to remain in school (Tinto, 1993). This sense of belonging is increased or decreased through interactions with the academic and social environments of the university, and that institutions of higher learning provide adequate resources and effectively utilize faculty advisors to encourage student retention. A number of factors have been suggested as contributing to this increase, including the ever-increasing number of academically under-prepared students entering college, higher expectations for incoming students, and changing characteristics of the postsecondary institution. VI Thus, while the door to college is open to increasing numbers, many students leave college without the benefits associated with a degree and without the skills necessary for future success (Hock et al., 1999). In addition to the changing characteristics of incoming students, characteristics of postsecondary institutions are changing as well. Increased numbers of students are being served with the same, limited ,,� - ; resources. This has often resulted in larger class sizes, encouraging a reversion to the traditional lecture style of instruction, in tum fostering less interactive teaching and learning (Topping, 1996; Topping & Watson, 1996). Offering students academic support in the form of "pin point" academic advisement sessions may provide the forum for students to playa more active, engaged role and assume greater responsibility for their learning (Houston & Lazenbatt, 1996; Moust & Schmidt, 1994; Topping, 1996).