Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Michael Pratt

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


The transition to university can be a particularly stressful time for incoming students, as indicated by high first-year attrition rates (Levitz & Noel, 1989). This stress may be produced in part by a reduction in social support that many students experience when they begin their university studies (Albert, 1988; Kenny, 1987). The present study examined an intervention program based on social support, and its impact on students' adjustment to university. Fifty-five first-year university students completed pretest questionnaires in August aimed at assessing levels of social support, as well as self-esteem, depression, stress, and integrative complexity of reasoning about university issues. Of the 55, twenty-seven (18 females, 9 males) were placed into one of three nine-member intervention groups, and participated in six weekly 90-minute group meetings, held in the first six weeks of classes, which focused on creating and maintaining social ties. The measures administered at pretest in August, as well as measures of university adjustment and daily hassles, were completed in early November and March. One of the three intervention groups was omitted from the analyses because delivery of the intervention was compromised for various reasons. For the other two intervention groups, results indicated that those involved in the discussions reported better adjustment to university, and lower levels of daily hassles, than did non-intervention participants (at both November and March testings). Intervention participants' perceived stress also dropped significantly from November to Mach, whereas no significant change over time was reported for control participants. The intervention's impact on university adjustment was "perfectly" mediated by students' levels of perceived social support in November (according to the procedures outlined by Baron & Kenny, 1986). Task-oriented coping was found to have an interactive effect with the intervention on many of the outcome measures, such that participants with low task-oriented coping tended to benefit from the intervention more than others. These findings are discussed, with emphasis on the role of social support in university adjustment. Residence issues, gender differences, group cohesion, and the role of task-oriented coping style in the transition to university are also discussed, and suggestions for strengthening the impact of the intervention are made.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season