Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education
Dr. Elizabeth Dinkins
Dr. Fred Rhodes
Dr. Pam Cartor
Depression has increased as a presenting concern among college students seeking counseling services, reaching 41.23% in 2016 (Reetz, Bershad, LeViness, & Whitlock, 2016). A Pessimistic Explanatory Style has been found to be related to depression, poor academic success, and GPA (Chang & Sanna, 2007; Dweck, 2008; Ramirez, Maldonado, & Martos, 1992; Seligman, 2011; Stipek, 1988). Further, undergraduate enrollment has decreased nationally by six percent between 2010 and 2015 (NCES, 2018). These factors support the need to explore overlooked aspects that can support a student’s transition into college (Hutson & He, 2011). This grounded theory study explored the transition experiences of first year, full time, traditionally aged college students with a pessimistic explanatory style, supported by the theories of Learned Helplessness, Symbolic Interactionism, and Transition (Blumer, 1989; Schlossberg, 1981; Seligman, 1970). Three assertions compose the resulting theory as students with a pessimistic explanatory style: (a) filter their transition experiences through a keen awareness of a dynamic reality; (b) employ a comparative lens to prepare for and make sense of their transition to college; and (c) experience their transition through a two-phase process that begins with a focus on relationships and personal development, then shifts toward academic and diversity engagement. A fourth unanticipated assertion identified that students with a pessimistic explanatory style showed a positive change in attributional style. Recommendations include increased support to students through holistic mentoring, implementation of broad mental health models, and consideration for the dynamic reality perceived by students and the impact that has on current student perceptions.
Piechowski, Hannah, "A Grounded Theory Study: Transition Experiences of First Year College Students with Pessimistic Explanatory Styles" (2018). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Capstones. 53.