Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado


Cherise Frazier

Faculty Sponsor

Kevin Pugh


What makes a student succeed or fail in college? The study investigates the relationship between autonomous motivation and success in higher education, with success defined as positive attitudes toward college (e.g., interest, value for college) and being in the honors program instead of on academic probation. The study is based on two hypotheses. First, college students who have parents that foster their autonomy will be more successful. Second, students who chose to attend college for autonomous reasons will be more successful. For the study, 99 participants in the honors program or on academic probation completed a survey assessing parental warmth, parental autonomy, perceived choice, interest and enjoyment, social life interest and enjoyment, effort and importance, social life effort and importance, pressure and tension, and value and usefulness. Students reporting higher levels of perceived parental warmth and autonomy were more likely to be in the honors program than on academic probation. Students reporting higher levels of perceived choice were not more likely to be in the honors program. However, these students were more likely to report higher levels of positive attitudes for college.