Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Dr. Caron Clark

Second Advisor

Dr. Susan Swearer

Date of this Version


Document Type



Wick, K.M. (2020). The role of faculty in fostering psychosocial wellbeing among university students (unpublished master's thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Psychology, Under the Supervision of Professor Caron A.C. Clark. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2020

Copyright © 2020 Kelley M. Wick


The transition to college represents a major life event, and successfully navigating this shift has implications for students’ psychosocial wellbeing. While there is ample support for the idea that social relationships can facilitate student wellbeing during the transition to college, there is limited understanding of the unique role faculty may play in supporting students. The aim of this study was to determine the relation of faculty support to student wellbeing and self-efficacy, independent of peer support and student level of stress. Additionally, the primary questions were to examine whether self-efficacy mediated the relation of faculty support to student wellbeing, and whether faculty support buffered the impact of stress to student wellbeing. Participants included 147 undergraduate students (Mage = 23.14, 69.4% female) from a Midwestern university, who completed a series of surveys assessing their levels of support in belonging on campus, their subjective happiness, self-efficacy, resilience, grit, and stress. Faculty support showed a robust correlation with a composite measure of psychosocial wellbeing incorporating happiness, resilience and grit. Importantly, this relation was independent of peer support and student level of self-perceived stress, p < .001, R2 = .170. Additionally, there was support for a mediated relationship from faculty support to student wellbeing via self-efficacy, p < .001. While student stress and faculty support were independently associated with student wellbeing, there was no evidence for an interaction between the two. That is, faculty support was equivalently associated with student wellbeing regardless of how much stress students felt they were experiencing. These results highlight the independent critical role of faculty in supporting student wellbeing during this major life transition. Interventions to promote faculty support may serve as a promising means of facilitating student adjustment on their university campuses.

Advisor: Caron A.C. Clark