Predictors of Positive Development in First-year College Students

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Graduate School of Social Work


Objective: Emerging adulthood is an important phase in the transition to adulthood. Emerging adults experience minimal social control and incomplete development of executive functioning leaving this age-group at risk for misusing this newfound independence. Hence, it is important to understand pathways to support positive development (PD) outcomes. In this study, we examined the relationship between participation in civically engaged learning and PD among first-year college students. Participants: First-year college students (N = 225) were surveyed during the 2012–2013 academic year. Methods: Students were surveyed on measures of PD and engaged learning prior to the beginning (initial survey) and at the end of the first year (final survey) of their undergraduate education. Stepwise linear regression was used to examine the influence of engaged learning on PD outcomes. Results: Engaged learning during the academic year predicted flourishing and students' civic frequency. Also, faith-affiliation and parents' civic frequency contributed to students' civic frequency. Conclusions: Our interpretation of the findings suggests that engaged learning and family role modeling may promote PD among first-year undergraduate students.

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