Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein-Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Donna Talbot

Third Advisor

Bradford Winkler


Student success, college persistence, psychological development, remediation, hope, career college


This study focuses on non-academic aspects of student success by examining a specific combination of positive psychological strengths and processes: hope optimism, coping and self-efficacy. To facilitate analysis and separation between non-academic and academic issues, two academic conditions - students prepared at entry to college and students prepared by completing remediation after entry - are established for the sample population. The measure of success is acceptance into a GPA sensitive program of study. The study is conducted at a multi-campus, Michigan-based, private, not-for-profit, right-to-try, career-college.

The presence of the psychological factors is measured through a three section, web-based survey. An academic profile section determines academic status including the need for and completion of remediation and acceptance into a competitive entry-program. A student reflection section measures the psychological variables by combining four published, psychometrically sound, open-use instruments for each factor. The instruments are The State Hope Scale (Snyder et al., 1996), The Revised Life Orientation Test (Scheier, Carver, & Bridges, 1994), The New General Self-Efficacy Scale (Chen, Gully, & Eden, 2001) and The Proactive Coping Inventory (Greenglass, Schwarz, Jakubiec, Fiksenbaum, & Taubert, 1999). The final section collects standard demographic data (e.g., gender, age, race/ethnic background) and some factors important in post-secondary education (e.g., GPA, class load, first generation student).

Of the 593 survey responses, 212 meet the criteria for the study: pursuit of a competitive entry college major. Non-parametric data techniques are used in the statistical analysis in response to initial reviews of normality and unequal and small sample sizes. The data shows students accepted into a GPA sensitive major, regardless of academic preparation, evidence a statistically significant higher level of hope than students who were not accepted. There are strong correlations among the variables; confirming previous research reported in the psychological literature. Recommendations include suggestions for increasing students' positive psychological development in response to the demands being made on institutions of higher education to increase rates of student retention and persistence to graduation.


Though this dissertation is available electronically only on the WMU campus, a print copy can be found in the Education Library at call number LB 9999.2.S665 and can be requested through Interlibrary Loan.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Campus Only

Restricted to Campus until