An examination of self-perceived temperament styles and its relation to the retention of first time, full-time freshmen in a college of agriculture
Powell, Ashley Loren
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First-time full-time freshmen are faced with an enormous amount of new experiences in their first year in college. Student personality has been a well-established factor in retention studies. However, no studies had been conducted on what significant ways a student temperament could be used to positively impact the retention of first-time, full-time freshmen within the College of Agriculture (COA) at Montana State University (MSU). The purposive sample for this study included only students who met four criteria: (a) First-time, full-time freshmen enrolled in the AGED 140 course in the fall 2012, spring 2013, and fall 2013 semester with declared majors in the COA; (b) completed the Beginning College Survey of Student Engagement (BCSSE) during the summer 2012 orientation session; and (c) completed the Real Colors® temperament assessment during the AGED 140 course. Descriptive quantitative in design, inferential and descriptive nonparametric statistics were used to explore for relationships and statistical significance between pre-college scores and the two study instruments-the BCSSE and Real Colors®. Findings were based on the results from the two instruments and pre-college academic factors of high school GPA, SAT Verbal and Math scores, and ACT Composite scores. Results showed that the largest primary temperament was Orange, and the largest secondary temperament was equal between Gold and Blue. Gold and Green students were concerned about making friends. Students were also concerned with engaging with instructors and paying for college. Females were concerned with their time management skills. Students expected to spend 21-30 hours preparing for coursework each week. Temperament was not correlated with retention. Recommendations were that retention programs and course study groups focus on gathering students struggling in a course or multiple courses. Scholarship and other financial services that assist in paying for college should be well publicized to students. Instructors' office hours should be posted and referred to often. Instructors and advisors should be aware of the different ways in which students with different temperaments perceived their first year academic workload. Instructors should keep course assignments practical; relate course material to industry jobs; provide hands on activities; and encourage big picture thinking.