Date of Award

Summer 7-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Rhonda Bishop

Second Advisor

Dr. Sherry DeVore

Third Advisor

Dr. Doug Hayter


This qualitative study was designed to investigate the perceptions of participants in the TRIO Student Support Service (SSS) program, a government-funded student retention program for first-generation college students, low-income students, and students with disabilities. There was little research on the perceptions of students who represent the target population in this government-funded program. Tinto’s (2012b) model of student departure was used to interpret the findings. The study was guided by three research questions used to investigate possible barriers or benefits to the participants while attending the university, and also asked participants for suggestions to improve the TRIO SSS program. Interviews with first-year TRIO SSS participants at a Midwest university were conducted. The students in this study discussed their experiences; and three themes emerged as issues with which they had to deal: adjustment, integration, and personal growth. These findings mirrored prior research on this target population, all of whom have been found to struggle with academic preparation, study skills, college procedural knowledge, and with wanting to fit into college both socially and academically (Johnson, 2012). The findings in this study are also consistent with the theory of student departure put forth by Tinto (2012b). Program improvement suggestions included, additional social gatherings, increasing the number of advisory meetings, provide a TRIO SSS program-specific orientation meeting, facilitate workshops to address study abroad programs and understanding income taxes. The TRIO SSS program services and staff were perceived by the participants as meeting the participants’ needs and should continue the practices already in place.


Copyright 2015