Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

Educational Leadership

Advisor

Havice, Pamela A

Committee Member

Havice, Pamela

Committee Member

Bridges, William

Committee Member

Cawthon, Tony

Committee Member

Griffin, Barbara

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore change in students' self-reported sense of meaning in life, academic self-efficacy, and satisfaction with faculty interactions, academic advising, and experiences at the research institution as a result of participation in the sophomore year experience on-campus living-learning community in Fall 2008. Chickering's Theory of Identity Development, Astin's Theory of Student Involvement, and Tinto's Model of Student Attrition provided the conceptual frameworks for this study. The literature reviewed supported the need for a study of the effect of a sophomore year experience on-campus living-learning community on participants' sense of meaning in life, academic self-efficacy and satisfaction with faculty interactions, academic advising, and experiences at the research institution as the foundation of this dissertation. The data collected and analyzed for this dissertation included pre and post-test responses to a modified version of the Sophomore Experiences Survey (Schreiner, 2007b) from 77 participants (41% of the total population) in the research institution's sophomore year experience on-campus living-learning community. The study identified practically significant change on all items related to sense of meaning in life, academic self-efficacy, and commitment to academic major, suggesting that participation in the sophomore year experience, on campus, living learning community contributed to participants not experiencing anticipated decreases on these items associated with the sophomore slump. The findings suggested participants reported statistically significantly higher sense of purpose; academic self-efficacy (time management, research and writing skills, confidence in being a good student); and, academic major certainty after participating in the living-learning community. Further, female participants reported statistically significantly higher understanding of meaning in life and quest for life purpose after participating in the living-learning community and African-American participants reported statistically significantly higher satisfaction with the amount of faculty contact they had during the fall semester. Based on the findings, recommendations for policy and programs were provided. The findings of this study filled a need in the literature for research on the impact and utility of interventions focused on factors contributing to retention of sophomores and strategies for fully implementing retention programs.

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