Conditions that facilitate the implementation of innovative freshman experience courses: A comparative analysis of three courses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Instructional Design, Development and Evaluation


Phillip Doughty


freshman experience courses, design and implementing freshman college courses

Subject Categories

Curriculum and Instruction | Higher Education and Teaching


Freshman experience courses are being instituted to ease transition of first-year students into college and to retain them as students. This study examined implementation of three innovative introductory courses. Eight conditions were investigated that might increase the possibility of the innovation being accepted by the people using it. These conditions were determined by studying the implementation of educational technology innovations. This study sought to determine the relationship of the same conditions to three freshman experience courses implemented at Syracuse University and to determine the extent to which these conditions existed when these courses were implemented. Conditions studied were: dissatisfaction with the status quo; knowledge and skills to implement the changes; availability of resources; availability of time to make changes; rewards or incentives for adopting innovations; participation by the persons affected; commitment, and leadership.

Four research questions were developed: (1) To what extent have the eight conditions been present when freshman experience courses have been implemented? (2) Are there additional conditions that might contribute to the implementation of innovations similar to these? If so, what are they? (3) Are some of the conditions more significant than others in facilitating the implementation of these course innovations? Can they be prioritized? (4) Are the same conditions important for each of the courses, or is there variation among the courses? Why?

A comparative analysis was conducted by interviewing faculty and administrators involved with the courses. A structured interview protocol was employed to address each condition. Each respondent was also given a Prioritizing Conditions sheet and asked to distribute one hundred points among the conditions by prioritizing them with a point distribution. A matrix design was used to analyze the interviews and prioritizing conditions responses.

All eight conditions were present to varying degrees in each school and college; no additional conditions were identified. Three prioritizing tiers of conditions were established: conditions essential for attempting an innovation, conditions that more directly affect the implementation of the innovation, and conditions that are essential to the morale of the faculty during the actual implementation. Basically, the same conditions appeared to be important for each of the courses.


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