Committee Chair

Miller, Ted L.

Committee Member

Rausch, David W.; Crawford, Elizabeth K.; Wyre, Steve H.


Dept. of Education


College of Health, Education, and Professional Studies


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The population of higher education in America consists of nearly 20 million students enrolled in more than 4,000 colleges across the country. College enrollment in America is large and continues to grow rapidly. According to The National Center for Education Statistics (2013), 22.4 million students will be enrolled in degree granting schools by 2019 as compared to 19.1 million in 2008. While college enrollment continues to grow, graduation rates lag. According to the US Department of Education (2009), only 20% of students who start at a two-year institution graduate within three years and about 40% of four-year students graduate in six years. As the ranks of new undergraduates swell, many of these hopeful students enter universities academically unprepared for the rigors of college-level work (Balduf, 2009). As this educational skills gap has become more apparent, colleges have implemented curricula to close the gap. To compensate for the lack of preparation, many colleges now offer some form of first year experience (FYE) course. A recent study indicated 94% of accredited four-year colleges and universities in the United States offer a first-year seminar to at least some of their students (Padgett, Keup, & Pascarella, 2013). The question that arises from the data is how well do the FYE courses help bridge the educational gap of the nations’ under-prepared students? This study investigated if a specific style of FYE course has a relationship with students’ perception of critical skills that may help them stay in school and matriculate toward graduation. The study surveyed two groups of students and compared FYE students to students who did not take an FYE course. The study also examined both groups to investigate changes in student’s self-perception of three critical self-regulatory skills—concentration, motivation, and time management. Ultimately, the goal of the study was to examine student’s perception of the three self-regulatory skills and provide insight into changes in those perception in both students taking a FYE course and those who do not.


Dr. Ted Miller has been a mentor and guide on this journey. His perceptive advice, keen analysis, and constant encouragement helped me see this project to conclusion. I would also like to thank Dr. Beth Crawford, Dr. David Rausch for their enthusiastic support of this study, and Dr. Steve Wyre who gave me both the push to start this journey, and valuable guidance along the way.


Ph. D.; A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.




College freshmen; College student orientation; Prediction of scholastic success; Academic achievement


Freshman experience; First year experience; College success; Concentration; Motivation; Time management

Document Type

Doctoral dissertations




xiv, 189 leaves