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A mixed methods case study: Understanding the experience of Nebraska 4-H participants relative to their transition and adaptation to college

Jill Walahoski, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This mixed methods case study was designed to assess the preparedness of former Nebraska 4-H participants to successfully transition and adjust to college. The study also sought to understand the way that students' experiences in Nebraska 4-H may have influenced their readiness to transition to college. The initial quantitative stage of this case study administered the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire to former 4-H participants who were recent high school graduates. Latter qualitative stages included interviews with staff regarding the practices and strategies they employed related to preparing young people for college and interviews with former 4-H participants selected from the survey sample. The results of the quantitative analysis indicated that generally, former 4-H participants reported a positive adaptation to college. Significant differences were found between the variable groups or with the influence of the covariate in the clusters of (a) Attachment: This College; (b) Personal and Emotional Adjustment: Psychological; (c) Personal and Emotional Adjustment: Physical; (d) Social Adjustment: General; and (e) Social Adjustment: Social Environment. Student's reporting different engagement levels in 4-H reported significant differences in their attachment to college and in their general social adjustment to college. The qualitative analysis discovered that staff and former 4-H participants both credit the cumulative 4-H experience and the multiple opportunities to explore interests, potential career areas and colleges as influential in the preparing young people for the transition to college. Additionally, both groups recognize that 4-H results in skill development relevant to a successful transition to college, especially networking, public speaking, and independence. Ultimately, the findings in this study indicate that the Nebraska 4-H experience positively contributes to the college readiness equation for its participants. Implications for nonformal youth development and suggestions for future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Agricultural education|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Walahoski, Jill, "A mixed methods case study: Understanding the experience of Nebraska 4-H participants relative to their transition and adaptation to college" (2013). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3557763.