Date of Conferral







Matthew Fearrington


First-generation college students continue to have lower retention and success rates in colleges and universities, reducing their likelihood of staying above the poverty line. The study tested Bandura and Vygotsky's social cognitive theories of self-efficacy, self-regulation, and student ability to self-pace in the classroom. The purpose of this study was to explore if offering supplemental online materials to traditional class delivery, which can be self-regulated and self-paced, impacted students' success rates in the class and semester-to-semester retention. Using a quasi-experimental method, first-semester college students, in a small private liberal arts college (N = 678); were compared on use of supplemental online materials, parental college experience, and class success and the impact of these variables on student second-semester retention. Additional information was gathered on year-to-year retention, to consider if the independent variables had an impact on longer-term retention. Results of the chi-square test indicate a significant relationship between student success and student semester-to-semester and year-to-year retention (p < .001). Logistic regression analysis indicates a significant relationship between the number of online supplemental materials available and student retention rates (p =.033). These findings demonstrate that increasing students' success in classes and increased online material offerings significantly increase long-term undergraduate student retention. By increasing high-risk students' chance for academic success, this can create social change by increasing their retention and graduation rates and increasing the likelihood they will have higher income and are less at risk for long-term poverty and the challenges associated with it.