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Research Agenda
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NODA supports research that ensures an empirical basis for its members’ practice. Its research agenda is intended to elevate vitality and visibility in the fields of college student orientation, transition, and retention (OTR). A foundation of research will provide universal recognition of the importance of OTR efforts, which are integral to student learning. NODA will advance the central role OTR plays in student success and institutional academic missions.

Pillars of Research Agenda

Elevate awareness of relevant issues and questions in OTR

• Monitor current trends in OTR and respond to inquiries of those in the profession;
• Serve as a clearinghouse for OTR research, assessment and recommendation for practice.

Promote research to gain further insight into these issues and questions

• Promote research in OTR to develop an empirical base to guide the Organization;
• Inspire researchers to focus on OTR topics while providing resources and grants for the work.

Translate research findings into recommendations for practice

• Make the research accessible to members in the form of recommendations for best practice.
• Articulate contributions to student persistence, retention and success strategies supporting individual institutional missions.

Themes, Areas, and Potential Topics for Future Research

1. Themes with implications for orientation, transition, and retention research

Orientation programs or retention interventions for specific populations and/or institutions:

• Two-year institutions
• On-line institutions
• For profit institutions
• Commuter students
• Non-traditional students/adult learners
• Students of color
• Students who identify as LGBT
• Veterans
• Women in STEM programs (or men in female-dominated professions)

Policies/practices related to enrollment, retention, and transition:

• Barriers/policies
• Assessment
• Academic advising
• Academic adjustment/integration
• Cooling out
• Retention/success
• Orientation
• Social integration
• Engagement

Academic and transfer credit policies and related academic outcomes

• Articulation
• Reverse transfer
• Transfer readiness
• General education
• Degree attainment
• Institutional initiatives
• Transfer gap choice
• Access

2. Potential topics for future research

Assessment, evaluation, and research of existing OTR programs:

• Performance-based outcomes (e.g., Complete College America) and implications for orientation, transition, and retention practice.

• Documented evidence of the impact of intervention programs aimed at improving student transition, retention, and progression.

• Learning outcomes assessment data from programs and/or experiences related to orientation, transition, and retention.

• The role of mentoring in student development and the transition through and out of college needs to be more fully examined.

Examination of transition beyond the first year:

• Progression in chosen major. For example, research documenting the experience of students who fail to progress in their chosen major and/or those who are not admitted into a “gated” major.

• Research on first-generation sophomore students, nontraditional sophomores, or sophomore student transition in different fields of study.

• Published assessment or evaluation data related to the impact of institutional initiatives on transfer student success initiatives is needed.

• Research comparing the experience of disaggregated populations of transfer students (e.g., lateral vs. vertical, sophomore-level vs. junior-level, traditional vs. nontraditional, minority vs. majority, low-SES vs. high-SES, etc.) would add to knowledge on the transfer transition.

• The impact of senior seminars, capstone courses, undergraduate research, and mentoring programs, faculty and staff. Extend the existing self-reported data with empirical research on these programs and the students who participate.

• An understanding of the long-term impact of participation in senior transition programs. Effort should be taken to track graduated students and determine how their collegiate experiences affect their post-baccalaureate lives.

Exploration of OTR related to specific student populations:

• Additional scholarship on how seniors, particularly women and underrepresented students, can be psychologically and emotionally prepared for the impending transition out of college.

• Research on assisting international students with the transition back to their native country, to build on existing research about supporting international students once they arrive at their U.S. institution.

• More research on U.S. students who study abroad, to examine pre-departure issues, re-entry concerns, and how institutions can maximize positive study abroad outcomes for students upon their return. Learning to support student sojourners at all points of their transition.

• Literature on adult learners and student veterans or service members is comparatively sparse; in particular, the research on and involving student veterans or service members uses similar methods and approaches. Additional research, particularly using quantitative methods, would broaden the collective knowledge base for these populations.

• Literature on students of color at predominately White institutions, or low-income students at four-year institutions, or commuter students at predominately residential institutions, tends to utilize a deficit perspective (how to “fix” or support students who are minoritized, rather than how to change campus cultures to be more inclusive). Research that focuses on changing campus climates to make OTR outcomes more equitable would be welcome

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