Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Terence Hicks

Committee Members

Jill Channing, Donald Good


The primary purpose of this study was to determine the differences in the academic outcomes of first-year academically underprepared TN Promise-eligible college freshmen who participated in a college bridge program. A comparative research design was applied to existing data, including first-semester GPA, first-semester credit completion rate, first college-level mathematics course GPA, first college-level English course GPA, and fall-to-fall persistence rates. A random sample of 412 first-time freshman college students from five cohorts was analyzed using descriptive statistics for eight research questions. These findings indicated that there were no significant differences among college bridge participants and non-bridge participants. Non-bridge program participants performed slightly better than bridge program participants for all research questions, including first-semester GPA, first-semester credit completion rate, first English course GPA, and first mathematics course GPA. Similar results were also found for research questions that analyzed underrepresented participants. However, despite finding that non-bridge participants achieved minor but consistently higher performance outcomes, the fall-to-fall persistence rates for bridge participants and non-bridge participants were nearly identical. Additional analyses indicated that low-income bridge participants slightly outperformed their low-income non-bridge peers in first-semester GPA and credit completion rate, and first-generation bridge program participants and first-generation non-bridge participants performed almost identically, though no statistical significance was found. This study documented the short-term academic effects that college bridge programs can have on academically underprepared college freshmen. These findings resemble similar findings from existing bridge program research that likewise did not find improvements in student performance or outcomes. Additionally, this study along with ambiguous findings from previous research, might indicate that bridge program efficacy is highly reliant on program design, purpose, and target populations, and the concept is not a universal approach to prepare students academically and socially for the curricular expectations of postsecondary education. Implications for future research and recommendations for policymakers are discussed.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by Gregory Anderson Cross