Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


Behavioral Science



First Advisor

Kathryn Quina


This study uses longitudinal data from community college students enrolled in developmental reading classes to explore the impact of a success course on key momentum points and milestones. Working from an institutional database, a cohort of first semester students (N = 1,427) from a public community college in New England was tracked from fall 2007 through spring 2013. Developmental reading students enrolled in a newly-instituted success course (N = 359) were compared to peers who did not enroll in the course. Chi square analyses addressed the relationship between reading level and success course enrollment and between success course enrollment and retention (2nd and 4th semester), momentum points (enrollment into developmental writing and gateway writing courses), and milestones (completing an associate’s degree or transfer- ready status). The results demonstrate a small (6-10%) but consistent effect of enrollment in the success course in facilitating the acquisition of academic goals. Regression analyses evaluated the demographic characteristics associated with these variables. In individual predictive analyses, nonwhite, first generation, and female students were significantly less likely to complete momentum points or milestones; however, in the full model race was the most consistent predictor, with completion ratios for nonwhite students 2-5 times lower than white students. Findings demonstrate the effectiveness of enrollment in a success course as a means of facilitating the achievement of academic goals, and further demonstrate that a 1-credit version of the course is the most effective delivery.



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