Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



The primary purpose of this study was to examine the impact of postsecondary transition programs on the college self-efficacy beliefs of first-generation college students. Postsecondary transition programs were developed to address the challenges that all first-time freshmen face, including all first-generation students. While there are a number of postsecondary transition program models, the three models examined in this study were Developmental Academic, Residential Colleges, and First Year Intervention programs. Although there is a great deal of evaluative research regarding how postsecondary transition programs impact students’ academic performance, there is a lack of research on how these programs impact students internal elements, such as self-efficacy. First-time freshmen students who participated one of the postsecondary transition programs exclusively were targeted for this research. The college self-efficacy beliefs of these students was the focus of this mixed methods study using the Social Cognitive Career Theory as the theoretical framework. The research questions addressed by this study were directed toward comparing students’ college self-efficacy beliefs based on the postsecondary transition program model and demographic factors which included first-generation status, gender, ACT scores, and income status. This mixed methods study was retrospective in nature given that second semester freshmen college self-efficacy beliefs were measured based on postsecondary transition programs that students participated in during their first semester. Surveys measuring students’ self-efficacy on seven different subscales were administered to all first-time freshmen and followed up by individual interviews with first-generation student participants from each postsecondary transition program. Overall, higher levels of college self-efficacy beliefs were reported by students who participated in the Residential College program. The Developmental Academic program participants reported lower levels of college self-efficacy beliefs. In addition, the study results revealed that there was not a significant difference in the levels college self-efficacy between First Year Intervention and Residential College students. Findings from this inquiry have the potential to contribute to policy, practice, and future studies of postsecondary transition programs and how they impact students’ college self-efficacy beliefs. Recommendations were made by the researcher from the study’s findings included modeling Developmental Academic programs after Residential College programs and enhancing First Year Intervention programs



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Arbuthnot, Keena



Included in

Education Commons