Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education (PhD)



First Advisor/Committee Member

Cher Edwards

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Munyi Shea

Third Advisor/Committee Member

June Hyun


hope, academic achievement, first-generation college students, academic self-efficacy


First-generation college students historically face barriers to succeed academically in post-secondary education as observed through lower graduation rates, lower GPA, lower rates of persistence in college, and prolonged time to graduate compared to non-FGCS (Cataldi, Bennett, & Chen, 2018; Chen & Carroll, 2005; Ishitani, 2006). Internal factors such as hope and academic self-efficacy have shown to have a distinct and significant impact on academic achievement (Feldman & Kubota, 2015).

In the present research, the relationships between Snyder and colleagues (1991) Trait Hope Scale (THS), Chemers and colleagues’ (2011) Academic Self-Efficacy Scale (ASES) and academic achievement, as measured by self-reported GPA, were investigated. Group-level differences were analyzed based on demographic variables (ethnicity, college-going status, and gender). The findings revealed that FGCS participants had significantly lower hope, t(312) = -2.72, p = .008, academic achievement, t(311) = -4.31, p < .001, and academic self-efficacy, t(312) = -3.74, p < .001, compared to non-FGCS. An ANOVA multi-group comparison indicated male participants significantly lower academic self-efficacy compared to female participants, F(4, 311) = 6.41, p < .001.

Within the THS subscales, agency and pathways, agency (standardized β = .42) more strongly predicted academic achievement than pathways (standardized β = -.23). A mediation analysis revealed academic self-efficacy mediated agency and academic achievement, b = .09, [BC] 95% CI [.05, .12]. Academic self-efficacy was an overall better predictor of achievement than hope, and more strongly correlated to GPA (r = .45, p < .001) than hope (r = .17, p = .001). Findings from the present study suggest that agency and academic specific support may increase academic achievement more than through general hope.