Date of Award

Summer 7-20-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Paul R. Yost

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Denise Daniels

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Dr. Daniel J. Martin


critical thinking, higher education, personal relationships, psychological capital, psychological well-being, whole student development


There is increasing pressure on institutions of higher education to accurately measure student success. What was once thought of as a way to develop students holistically via a liberal arts degree, higher education is now often regarded as a means to an end: a well-paying job. Lost in the drive for quantifiable data is the holistic development of individuals who are capable of interacting with and influencing the world around them. Thus, higher education struggles to respond to market pressures while maintaining a focus on wholly developing individuals. In this research study, it is proposed that student “success” should include household income, critical thinking, psychological capital, and psychological well-being. Furthermore, research is needed to identify predictors that lead to whole student development. Interpersonal relationships were proposed as a critical predictor of holistically developed students; specifically, interpersonal relationships with fellow students and faculty mentorships. It was further purposed that these factors are moderated by student internship/work experience. This study was conducted using an online survey of 250 respondents and utilized regression analyses to assess the relationships between the predictors and the proposed outcomes of holistic education. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk was used to recruit participants (N = 369) who completed an online survey. The sample included slightly more males (57%) than females (43%), and a median age of 32. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to analyze results. Strong positive main effects were found for both personal relationships (β = .636; R2 = .405, p < .001) and faculty mentorship (β = .551; R2 = .304, p < .001) on holistic student development. Internship/work experience value also exhibited a positive relationship with holistic student development (β = .376; R2 = .141, p < .001). Together, the three factors accounted for a substantial proportion of the variance in the holistic student development (R2 = .496, p < .001). The hypothesized two-way and three-way interactions were not significant. Results suggested that there is a link between personal relationships, faculty mentorships, internship/work experiences, and the outcome of wholly developed students, but those relationships did not interact in a synergistic manner.

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