Date of Award


Degree Type

Education Specialist

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Education, Leadership and Public Service


Educational Administration: Administration and Supervision (MAE)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Joseph Lubig


The Northern Michigan University Large Lecture Retention Enhancement Initiative (LLREI) three-year pilot program ran from Fall 2012 to Winter 2015. The LLREI served 52 sections of courses consisting of 4,336 students over six semesters. Of that total, 1,390 were freshmen targeted for retention. Between 629-882 total students enrolled in participating courses depending on the semester. The three-year pilot program cost approximately $180,000.

The main goal was to reduce the historically high failure and drop rates in large lecture introductory courses by revamping the content with active learning and supporting the courses with push-in style undergraduate teaching assistants. Eighty-eight percent of the course sections achieved that goal. The program designers hoped that reducing the failure and drop rate would increase the overall institutional retention rate.

The LLREI’s unintended outcomes included professional development experiences for the teaching assistants, collaboration between faculty and teaching assistants, and new ways to communicate with and support struggling students. Participating faculty, teaching assistants, and students said they valued the program and expressed their desires to institutionalize it. In spite of the positive feedback and success reducing failure and drop rates, university administrators eliminated the program to save money as the university weathered an enrollment crisis (Rowles, 2015).

This post-hoc program evaluation assessed the intended and unintended outcomes of the LLREI. It considered the decision to eliminate the program in the context of institutional leadership, policy and culture. This program evaluation recommended possible considerations for future similar retention programs utilizing undergraduate teaching assistants.

Access Type

Open Access