Date of Award

8-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

W. Jeff Wallis

Abstract

Research suggested that there is a need for higher education institutions to focus on retaining sophomore students, as many struggle with sophomore slump. The term sophomore slump is “widely used to describe students who lack motivation, feel disconnected, and flounder academically” (Gahagan & Hunter, 2006, p. 18). To address this matter, some institutions of higher education have invested resources into sophomore year or second-year initiatives to retain sophomore students, but the lack of reported assessment and evaluation of the effectiveness of sophomore year or second-year initiatives in higher education institutions is an issue. The most cited initiatives that universities created to support sophomore year or second-year students are leadership development, academic advising, and career planning (Gahagan, Jr., 2009). The Rising STARR Sophomore Program is a sophomore year or second-year initiative that supports career planning by engaging sophomore students through career-related activities to identify job-related goals. The program also addresses the growing industry needs of employers who collaborate with the career center in preparing and hiring students for leadership programs, internships, part-time, and full-time careers related to their major. This quantitative evaluative case study assessed if the Rising STARR Sophomore Program is an effective intervention to address sophomore slump and, if so, how elements of this program might be useful to educators who are planning similar programs. The program’s effectiveness was assessed using a one-group pretest-posttest design, with program theory and logic model as a framework. The results of this study showed that students who interacted with the Rising STARR Sophomore Program reported high rates of motivation, decision-making, and confidence with respect to career success. They attributed their success to the program.

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