Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A comparative analysis of the effectiveness of strengths-based curricula in promoting first-year college student success
by Louis, Michelle C., Ph.D., Azusa Pacific University, 2008, 316; 3321378
Abstract (Summary)

Initial research supports the use of strengths-based models as a way of nurturing student success, but existing studies have not assessed the relative effectiveness of various types of strengths-based approaches in promoting desired outcomes. The current research examined the impact of 2 separate strengths-based models, referred to throughout the study as the talent identification and strengths development interventions. This investigation utilized an experimental pretest-posttest waiting list control group design to compare the relative impact of these strengths-based curriculum types to each other and to a traditionally-implemented curriculum in a first-year seminar course, which served as the control condition. Student assignment to curriculum type was randomly determined, and the study included data from 388 undergraduates enrolled in a required first-year seminar course at a private liberal arts institution. The dependent variables in this investigation included academic engagement, hope, perceived academic control, achievement goal orientation, and mindset. A one-way MANCOVA conducted to examine the effect of the 2 strengths-based approaches on academic engagement, hope, and perceived academic control indicated that these variables differed significantly across treatment condition such that the strengths development group had the highest adjusted posttest mean scores across all of these variables. Univariate ANCOVAs conducted on each dependent measure to determine the locus of the statistically significant multivariate effect found that treatment condition significantly affected perceived academic control but not academic engagement or hope. Students in both strengths-based groups had significantly higher posttest levels of perceived academic control than did those in the control group. An ANCOVA comparing posttest mindset scores found that students in the talent identification group reported significantly lower posttest mindset scores than did those in the strengths development and control groups, indicative of a heightened tendency toward a fixed mindset for students in the talent identification condition following exposure to this curriculum. A chi-square analysis revealed that the strengths development condition had more students with a learning goal orientation at posttest, while the talent identification condition had more students with a performance goal orientation at the posttest than could be attributed to chance alone. Achievement goal orientation remained stable for the control group.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Schreiner, Laurie A.
School: Azusa Pacific University
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 69/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: School counseling, Psychology, Higher education
Keywords: Academic control, College students, Curriculum, First-year programs, First-year students, Mindset, Strengths, Strengths-based
Publication Number: 3321378
ISBN: 978-0-549-71992-2
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