Supporting college student self-determination through motivational interviewing

Benjamin Buck Blankenship, Jon Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: This study was intended to investigate a small-scale School-based Motivational Interviewing (SBMI) pilot with first-year college students. This approach honors student autonomy, supports self-determination and has the potential to impact educational outcomes in higher education. Motivational Interviewing (MI) is an evidence based conversational skill set, defined as “a collaborative conversational style for strengthening a person's own motivation and commitment to change” (Miller and Rollnick, 2013, p. 12). Student perceptions of satisfaction with the faculty-student mentoring intervention were sought. Relational aspects of MI (partnership, empathy and alliance) were also explored. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-method approach was used for the SBMI study, focused on college students with recent academic setbacks (N = 19). Findings: The intervention was deployed with high levels of MI technical fidelity and relational quality. Participants reported high satisfaction with the intervention. The relational aspects and participant perceived alliance with their faculty were highly correlated across the intervention, adding to the discussion of the mechanisms of MI that contribute to its effectiveness. Research limitations/implications: This work is formative, yet at this point is not generalizable given the scope of the study. Practical implications: Findings are encouraging for further development of this innovative pedagogical approach. Possible future applications of research are provided. Social implications: Discussed herein, SBMI has the potential to meet the needs of traditionally underrepresented student groups. Originality/value: The reported study is the initial portion of a larger intervention development project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1117-1130
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Applied Research in Higher Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 9 2024


  • First-year students
  • Mechanisms of MI
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Self-determination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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