Date of Award

Spring 2016

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Michelle Leichtman

Second Advisor

David Pillemer

Third Advisor

Victor Benassi


The study presented in this dissertation was designed to investigate the effects of a brief intervention encouraging student-faculty interaction among college students on their academic achievement, college adjustment and intent to withdraw. Additionally, the effects of identity style on academic achievement, college adjustment, and student-faculty interaction were examined. Two hundred and five first year students participated in a four-part study, measuring the frequency and quality of student-faculty interaction, college adjustment, and identity development at three different time points. Students were randomly assigned to one of three experimental groups; only one group received the advice to meet with faculty outside of the classroom at the beginning of the fall semester. Intent to withdraw was measured at the end of the semester, and first-semester GPA was obtained during the spring semester.

Results indicated a significant effect of the experimental treatment on one key outcome variable: level of institutional commitment. Students who received the advice to interact with faculty reported higher institutional commitment than the other groups, and in turn, institutional commitment was the only predictor of intent to withdraw. Academic achievement in the first semester was predicted by first generation status, quality and frequency of student-faculty interaction, and academic efficacy. In terms of identity development, students using the information orientation were better equipped to handle the demands of the first year in college than those using the diffuse orientation.