The effects of a prefreshman summer bridge program on student persistence into the sophomore year

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching and Leadership


Philip L. Doughty


Bridge program, Curricula, Teaching, Academic guidance counseling, Higher education

Subject Categories



As the number of students enrolling in higher education has decreased, more attention has been focused on the problem of student attrition. Research on one model (Tinto, 1975) that was developed to explain the process of student attrition was reviewed. This literature review provided a synthesis of (a) the inconsistent definitions of the variables used in these studies and (b) the equivocal results in light of these definitions. In addition, research on summer bridge programs was reviewed.

For this study, Tinto's model of student persistence was applied to the study of an institutional intervention, the Summer Institute at Syracuse University. The Summer Institute was an intensive, six-week prefreshman program designed to provide students with a transition from high school to college.

This study had three purposes: (a) determining the usefulness of variables from Tinto's model in explaining persistence for at-risk students, (b) clarifying the definitions of academic and social integration by separating each of the variables into two components, frequency of participation in activities and satisfaction with activities, and (c) determining the direct and indirect effects of participation in the Summer Institute.

A causal model was developed to examine the relationship between entry characteristics, Summer Institute participation, academic and social experiences, institutional commitment, intention to return, freshman year grade point average, and persistence for students who participated in a Summer Institute program and a comparable group of students who did not participate in that program. Path analysis was used to analyze the causal model.

Results of this path analysis: (a) supported the separation of academic and social integration into components that measure frequency of participation in and satisfaction with activities, (b) identified the strongest direct effect on persistence as students' intention to return, and (c) indicated that the only direct or indirect effect of participation in the Summer Institute was a moderate direct effect on frequency of participation in social activities.

These results were discussed in terms of their contributions to summer bridge research, attrition research, and the Summer Institute program. Limitations of this type of research as well as suggestions for future research were also provided.


Surface provides description only. Full text is available to ProQuest subscribers. Ask your Librarian for assistance.