This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

High-Impact Practices and First Destination Outcomes of Liberal Arts Graduates




Adams, Melissa

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The adult learning theories of andragogy, experiential learning, and self-directed learning were utilized as the framework for this study as these theories guide educators in their work with students to seek experiences that may enhance their opportunities beyond college in adulthood. By understanding adult learning theories, administrators in higher education institutions can better incorporate informal learning experiences that promote a commitment to lifelong learning among its graduates. The purpose of this study was to better understand how participation in informal learning experiences like high-impact practices (HIPs), connects to first destination outcomes (FDOs) of liberal arts graduates. This study further explored the quality of the HIP experience, specifically internships, study abroad, and undergraduate research and how this quality of participation may relate to FDOs for students in the liberal arts. Using a secondary dataset that included over 500 graduates within the liberal arts disciplines, from a large, public land grant university in the southeastern United States, the relationship between HIP participation and quality and FDOs was analyzed using multinomial logistic regression. Participation in internships showed statistical significance to the outcome of employment and participation in undergraduate research showed statistical significance to the outcome of further education. While not significant, participation in study abroad was positively correlated to both FDOs. Overall quality of experience in HIPs was not significantly related to FDOs, however individual items including interaction with faculty and peers, appropriately high expectations, effort required over an extended period of time, and receiving constructive feedback had positive relationships (some significant) with the FDOs. This study provides some insight into the influence of HIP participation and FDOs for liberal arts graduates. This research adds to the existing literature and will better inform professional advisors and career specialists in helping guide students in choosing appropriate activities that further develop the skills needed to attain their career aspirations. Furthermore, faculty and administrators can work to develop meaningful experiences that not only benefit students in meeting their educational goals, but that also position institutions to recruit and retain students.