Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Janna P. Vice

Department Affiliation


Second Advisor

Tara Shepperson

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Eugene J. Palka

Department Affiliation



This study examined the best practices in tutoring high-risk, first-year students. The study was conducted in three phases. First, the study investigated the tutoring practices at two four-year universities with similar admissions standards as Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) but with higher retention rates: Austin Peay State University and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. The qualitative and quantitative results of that phase of the study revealed five best practices.

The second phase of the study focused on the extent to which EKU’s tutoring practices align with the best practices found in phase one. The data revealed that, at least to a certain degree, EKU’s practices align with all of the identified best practices. In addition to the best practices found in the first phase, EKU also utilizes required tutoring for high-risk students enrolled in a bridge program.

The third phase of the study focused on the required tutoring hours of high-risk students who are placed in a bridge program at EKU. Students were divided into three groups for study: full participation, those who reached the tutoring hours required by the bridge program; partial participation, those who participated in the program but did not reach the required number of tutoring hours; and null participation, those who did not participate in the program.

Quantitative data revealed that the full participation group had higher grade-point-averages than students who were in the null participation group. The data did not reveal that full participants have significantly higher grade-point-averages than partial participants. Also, the study revealed that the retention rates among the three groups are not significantly different.