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National Resource Center for The First-Year Experience and Students in Transition

Publication Details

Challenge and Support for the 21st Century: A Mixed-Methods Study of College Student Success


Author(s): Longerbeam, S.

Citation: Longerbeam, S. (2016). Challenge and Support for the 21st Century: A Mixed-Methods Study of College Student Success. Journal of The First-Year Experience & Students in Transition, 28(2), 33-51.

 

Abstract

This study used Sanford’s (1966) theory of challenge and support to explore the stories of successful college students in transition. Using a mixed-methods design, 709 first-year and senior students and 8 upper-division nontraditional students were interviewed about their college experiences. Quantitative results indicated that supportive campus environments and academic challenge were predictive of learning and that enriching educational experiences were related to graduation. Qualitative data generated four themes, suggesting how supportive campus environments and academic challenge contributed to learning while enriching educational experiences supported graduation outcomes. Taken together, the results suggest that college environments facilitative of academic success are those conducive to increasing opportunities to find support and engage challenge.

 

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