Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name



Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Monica Tracey


According to ACT Educational Services (2010), more than one-third of college freshmen will not progress to their sophomore year. Several states, including Michigan, have proposed higher education performance funding models, which directly correlate state funds to student retention and graduation rates (Jesse, 2012). As higher education suffers from diminishing resources, there is a heightened focus to increase retention and graduation rates (Tinto, 2007).

The transition from high school to college can be a traumatic time for adolescents. This age group has unique motivational needs as they adjust to an unfamiliar academic environment (Perry et al., 2005). The first year of college is a critical time when students make the decision to stay enrolled or withdraw (Tinto, 2007). Research shows that student motivation and engagement are key factors in academic persistence among college freshman, both of which can be impacted through effective academic advising (Mottarella et al., 2004; Hale et al., 2009; Smith, 2002; Museus & Ravello, 2010).

The purpose of this design-based research study was to document the design, implementation, and evaluation of a motivational-based academic advising intervention for first-year students in the School of Business at Wayne State University. Using Part V of the Academic Advising Inventory (AAI), student preference of developmental versus prescriptive advising styles was measured. It was found that first-year students prefer developmental advising, but seem to lack confidence in areas of course selection and academic decision making. To address these areas of need, two advising instruments were designed for used with first-year students: the First-Year Advising and Communication Tool (FACT), and the First-Year Advising Syllabus.

Twenty-one first-year business students were exposed to the instruments during the fall 2012 semester. The instruments were evaluated and revised through three phases of iterative data collection and analysis. Qualitative data was collected in these phases through open-ended student surveys, student interviews, advisor journals, and a researcher journal. It was found that first-year students in this study feel that academic advising is most impactful to their motivation and engagement in three key areas: selecting courses, establishing a personal advising relationship, and in future planning and goal setting.