Thriving at the University of Arizona: The Design and Implementation of a First-Year Experience Workshop
AuthorCapin, Victoria Horn
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn today’s changing world, a college degree has become more than a career advantage; it is now required for almost all economic opportunities (Chan, 2016). Students entering college may not be as prepared for success as they need to be. This lack of preparation can lead to negative outcomes such as dropping out of college (Mayhew et al., 2016). Both students and universities are impacted by attrition, so it is in the best interest that programs are implemented to increase the probability that students continue to graduation. First-year experience programs are very effective for improving retention (Mayhew et al., 2016; Upcraft, Gardner, & Barefoot, 2004). However, due to different sizes, selectivity, and populations at universities across the United States, first-year programs have to be designed to meet the unique needs of each school implementation. This study aims to create and implement a first-year program to improve persistence at a large broad-access research university whose enrollment is extremely diverse. The program addresses the range of issues that students experience in college, including academic, social, and personal factors that will lead to a better chance of success (Astin, 1993; Kuh, 2007; Mayhew et al., 2016; Tinto, 1993). The effectiveness of the workshop is explored through four research questions. The first two focus on overall changes in thriving as a result of workshop participation. The third asks about the impact of specific workshop sessions on corresponding constructs of thriving that the session was designed to influence. The final question examines the participants’ reactions to and assessment of the workshop and its components. The program for this study was presented as a five-session workshop based on the construct of thriving which focuses on the whole college experience from a strengths-based perspective (Schreiner, 2013a). The construct of thriving is a framework for helping students successfully transition and grow in college while empowering them to benefit more fully from their college experience (Schreiner, 2012). The effectiveness of the implementation was measured in part by the Thriving Quotient (Schreiner, 2016a), a highly reliable instrument which includes 25 items on five subscales. Each session of the workshop was designed to address a different factor of thriving, aligning with each subscale of the instrument. These subscales are Academic Determination, Positive Perspective, Engaged Learning, and Diverse Citizenship. There were 55 participants in the study, of which 35 participated in the intervention. The workshop was held in two rounds of five sessions each. Descriptive, correlational, and analysis of variance (ANOVA) analyses were performed on the Thriving Quotient outcomes. ANOVAs showed an increase in thriving for students who attended at least one session of the workshop. Those who attended three or more sessions had even more significant increases in overall thriving. The mean thriving scores for the comparison group dropped. The outcomes were almost the same for subscale results except for Diverse Citizenship, which showed a small decline for the intervention group. However, this decrease was not as great as the mean decrease for the comparison group. The only increase in subscale scores for the comparison group was for the Social Connectedness scale, but growth was less than for the intervention group. Post-session evaluations addressing the goals and impact of each session also yielded quantitative and qualitative data. Descriptive analysis of data from these evaluations were overwhelmingly positive. Qualitative data analysis from open-ended responses to questions about strengths of each session and areas to improve were also positive and constructive. This study contributes to the first-year experience literature by providing a strengths-based program for a large, diverse university that is dynamic and flexible and that is validated by the scales on which the program was designed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College