Date of Award

Summer 8-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dana Driscoll

Second Advisor

Ben Rafoth

Third Advisor

Bryna Siegel Finer

Fourth Advisor

Jennifer Wells


This dissertation aimed to examine if and how Gallup’s Strengths program impacts underperforming college students' dispositions towards writing; investigate what constitutes students' dispositions towards writing; and explore the characteristics of dispositions. To fulfill these purposes, the study used a case-study methodology to answer the following research questions: 1) How does Academic Standards use Strengths? 2) What are the writing dispositions of underperforming college students as they return to school after being on academic suspension? 3)Do individual dispositions impact other dispositions?

Results indicated that underperforming college students’ writing dispositions were most impacted by their dispositions towards learning, more broadly. While each participant had a unique disposition profile, self-regulation was the most salient disposition in the group. Further, data suggests that both Academic Standard’s strengths-based mentorship and use of Gallup’s Strengths program may have an impact on students’ dispositions towards learning. The findings align with existing research on the interconnected nature of dispositions and suggests that dispositions may interact across domains.

Implications for transfer-based pedagogy and continued research on students’ dispositions are provided. For instance, the results suggest that building generative dispositions may be a process of self-awareness, creating new habits, and reflecting on their progress. Therefore, writing instructors should consider ways to foster students’ metacognition about writing, but also about cultivating successful student habits, such as self-regulation. Implications for transfer researchers include using dispositional profiles to better understanding the context of singular dispositions and to design studies that further explore the complex psychological matrices of students’ dispositions.