Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Ed Psychology and Research


Educational Research

Committee Member

Leigh Harrell-Williams

Committee Member

Chia-chen Yang


The purpose of this mixed methods study was to examine and explore the institutional policy levers that facilitate successful educational outcomes in a TRiO funded Student Success Program at a large, urban research university in the Mid-South. Three research questions guided the study: (1) how do the educational outcomes of the university's TRiO SSP participants differ compared to the university's low income, first generation students, (2) how are the university's SSP institutional policy levers structured to improve the educational outcomes of program participants, and (3) how do the university's SSP participants experience the effectiveness of the program's institutional policy levers in improving their educational outcomes? The quantitative outcomes of academic progress, academic achievement, and academic engagement were examined first to determine if there was a statistically signigicant difference between the program's first generation, low income participants and non-participants with similar socioeconomic characteristics. Academic progress, operationalized as the percentage of retention and completion, was found to be statistically significant. Academic achievement, operationalized as average GPA, and academic engagement, operationalized as the National Survey of Student Engagement Indicator composite scores, were found not to be statistically significant based on SSP participation. The Transition to Success(tm) model was used to qualitatively explore which policy levers facilitate successful outcomes using an Appreciative Inquiry lens. Results indicate holistic case management, development of academic and life skills, and the creation of an inclusive and supportive environment contribute to successful educational outcomes for first generation, low income college students.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.