Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Tuesdi Helbig, Director of Dissertation, Dr. Linda Gonzales, Dr. James McCaslin, Dr. Tony Norman

Degree Program

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

Degree Type

Doctor of Education


Research on factors involved in freshman retention suggested that conditionally-admitted college students who failed to pass a less academically challenging course, such as freshman orientation, tended to have significantly lower rates of college persistence, and also suggested that failure of such courses may be attributed to motivation factors rather than academic ability. This study examined the relationship between motivation and academic success of conditionally-admitted college freshmen in a first-year experience course to determine whether motivation played a significant role in student achievement in this course.

The population of this study consisted of 309 conditionally-admitted students at a comprehensive university located in the Midwestern United States. Motivation was assessed using a segment of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) comprised of the following five motivation subscales: intrinsic goal orientation,extrinsic goal orientation, task value, control of learning beliefs, and self-efficacy for learning. Students enrolled in the first-year experience course were administered the MSLQ during the second week of the fall 2012 semester. Correlation analyses were performed to determine the relationship between motivation subscale scores and academic success, as measured by final grade in the course. Multiple regression analyses were used to determine how the motivation subscales were related to academic success,controlling for certain demographic and pre-college variables. Because some students were absent from class on the day of the MSLQ administration, chi-square analyses of independence and a t-test were performed to determine whether a difference was found in final grade, demographic, and pre-college characteristics for students who took the MSLQ versus those who did not.

The analyses revealed only slight support for the assertion that motivation isrelated to success in the university experience course. However, evaluating themotivation subscale scores controlling for demographic and pre-college variables yieldeda significant, but weak, relationship with first-year seminar final grade. Given the unfortunate selection bias of the study, it still suggests that the motivational assessment could be used as a tool to predict performance in first-year experience courses, and interventions could be designed to increase success for conditionally-admitted students.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research