Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

John Littrell


This study explored the impact of family relationship dynamics on college student adjustment measures for 61 first-year first-generation college students. Students volunteered to complete a self-report questionnaire during their second semester of college, measuring psychological coping, family relationships, and academic, social, personal-emotional, and overall college adjustment. Actual student end-of-year and first-semester grade point average (GPA) and high school rank were also obtained.;Hierarchical regression analysis results indicated that positive family relationship dynamics were predictive of positive personal-emotional college adjustment over and above that accounted for by prior academic achievement and psychological coping. However, the amount of additional explained variance was only 3%. Family relationship interaction was not associated with academic or social adjustment outcomes. Psychological coping provided a significant main effect, after partialing out prior achievement, for student social, academic, personal-emotional, and overall adjustment. Lower negative mood was associated with higher adjustment. Student prior academic achievement was also positively related to academic adjustment, overall adjustment and student end-of-year GPA. Both prior academic achievement and psychological coping explained a high percentage of the variance in adjustment outcomes for this study, showing the need to control for these variables in future college adjustment research.;This research points to student mood and emotional coping as an important area of institutional intervention for first-year first-generation students following their first semester of college. Since psychological coping was found to provide a substantial amount of explained variance in college student adjustment, student academic support programs need to be designed to assist students in identifying current mood and level of functioning, individual coping resources, and ways of maintaining a positive attitude and self-image. An emphasis on affective coping skills, important relationship connections and activities that promote self-esteem and a sense of confidence will help students understand their college situation in a way that supports their ability to manage it successfully and accomplish their goals.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Deborah Ann Baker DeWall



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

125 pages