Term of Award

Spring 2017

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Janie H. Wilson

Committee Member 1

Nicholas S. Holtzman

Committee Member 2

Rebecca G. Ryan


One of the most valuable commodities in modern society is a college education. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES, 2016), an estimated 20.5 million students enrolled in American colleges and universities during the fall of 2016, with the majority enrolled in undergraduate programs. When assessing undergraduate success, many studies focus on academic achievement, with grade-point average (GPA) serving as the most common measure. Other studies utilize persistence to graduation as the primary measure of success. Based on the available literature, college success can be predicted by several domains, including personality, motivational influences, and social variables. In the present study, the relationships between both measures of student success and measures from all three domains were examined among undergraduate students (N = 141). Simultaneous regression was used to predict achievement and persistence. Results indicated that motivational factors were the best predictors of actual GPA (R2 = .14), social factors best predicted self-reported GPA (R2 = .17), and personality factors best predicted intention to withdraw from school (R2 = .26). Attempts to predict likelihood to earn a degree were marginally successful, but motivational factors explained only 6% of the variance at best. Results indicated that higher student achievement (i.e., actual GPA) was predicted by greater need for achievement, less fear of failure, and not perceiving schools as being subjective in their treatment of high-achieving students.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material