Date of Award

Summer 8-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Higher Education Leadership, Management, Policy


Education Leadership, Management and Policy


Eunyoung Kim, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Tracy Gottlieb, Ph.D.


Bridge, mentorship, at-risk, engagement, academic confidence, equity-mindedness


This study explored the relationships between at-risk, bridge program students and institutional mentors. The purpose of this dissertation was to learn more about the ways that bridge program students’ relationships with institutional mentors may (or may not) influence students’ development of academic confidence and campus engagement. Bridge programs are designed to foster student mentoring relationships with both faculty members who teach within the programs, as well the administrators and staff members (usually student affairs professionals) who run the program. Thus far, the research on bridge programs has been overly focused on predictive student attributes and quantitative outcomes (e.g. GPA or retention rates); this dissertation expands the research on practitioner approach to at-risk student mentorship, offering insight into the methodology of mentorship and how at-risk students experience such methodology.

A qualitative case study approach was utilized to achieve an understanding of both sides of a mentoring relationship and a close look at what strategies are employed by mentors who work with at-risk students, how students respond to those methods and approaches, and how at-risk students understand their experiences in the bridge program and with their mentors. This study includes an exploration of practitioners’ equity-minded (Bensimon, 2007) approaches within the bridge program and within the mentoring relationships established with students. Findings from this study suggest that program design may foster the development of meaningful mentoring relationships between practitioners and at-risk students; further, findings suggest that practitioners’ use of equity-minded approaches and focus on student self-authorship (Magolda, 2008) may encourage academic confidence and campus engagement among at-risk students.