Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Christine C. Cook


Increasing numbers of students are transferring from two-year to four-year higher education institutions. Existing research indicates that transfer students often encounter multiple academic and social challenges during the transition (Duggan & Pickering, 2008; Laanan, 2004; Townsend & Wilson, 2009). Learning Communities (LC) are one way in which the receiving institution can offer academic and social support to transfer students. LC provide small cohorts with an opportunity to take courses together, engage in out-of-class activities, receive peer mentoring from upper-division students, and are proven to positively influence student retention (Shapiro & Levine, 1996). Furthermore, Bandura (1994) asserts that four domains of self-efficacy: mastery experiences; vicarious experiences; social persuasion; and somatic influences are critical to shaping individual motivation. Self-efficacy can provide a lens through which transfer student LC experiences and persistence can be understood. Through interviews and focus groups, this qualitative study explores the insights of twelve transfer LC participants and four LC program coordinators; investigates the challenges of, and opportunities for, transfer LC design; and identifies the role of self-efficacy in shaping the transfer student transition. The study confirms that self-efficacy is supported through transfer LC experiences and that LC activities clearly support transfer student academic, social and career preparation goals.


Copyright Owner

Jennifer R. Leptien



File Format


File Size

142 pages