First-year academic success: Differences in pre-entry and learning and study skill characteristics for academically successful and unsuccessful students at a public flagship university in New England
For decades, researchers have investigated the determinants of college success, and higher education institutions have established a variety of support programs to promote student success. However, understanding and improving the academic performance of first-year students is more complicated than retention (Barefoot, 2000). Furthermore, many institutions offer support programs to improve student academic success without first understanding the populations they serve (Trombley, 2000).^ This study examined the differences in pre-entry characteristics, motivation, and study skills factors (using Learning and Study Strategies Inventory---LASSI ) of successful and unsuccessful first-year students at a flagship public university in New England. Unsuccessful students at the end of their first semester were those subject to dismissal (GPA < 1.0, n = 52) and students on probation (GPA between 1.0-2.0, n = 66). Successful students (GPA 3.5 +, n = 66) were freshman honors students. Initial differences in the groups were assessed through a comparison, of pre-entry characteristics using Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and chi-square.^ Second-semester grade performance and post-test LASSI scores were examined for the two unsuccessful groups: probationary students, who received no treatment and subject to dismissal students, who participated in a semester long intervention program. Grades and scores were analyzed through the use of Analysis of Covariance (ANCOVA), using first-semester grades and pre-test scores as covariates.^ Qualitative data were gathered from focus groups with faculty and staff (n = 22), who were asked to articulate differences between academically successful and unsuccessful students, and were compared to empirical findings.^ Significant differences between successful and unsuccessful students were found for high school GPA, high school rank, SAT scores, gender, race/ethnicity, residency, and for the 10 LASSI variables. Students on probation had higher pre-test LASSI scores for motivation than students subject to dismissal. The subject to dismissal group had statistically significant higher post-test LASSI scores for all subscales except attitude and motivation, though lower second-semester GPA means than the students on probation. Faculty and staff identified differences between successful and unsuccessful students were in-line with the empirical findings, except for gender, race/ethnicity and residency. ^ Recommendations based on the findings were made for leaders at the site institution and for future needed research.^
Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Higher
Dean D Libutti,
"First-year academic success: Differences in pre-entry and learning and study skill characteristics for academically successful and unsuccessful students at a public flagship university in New England"
(January 1, 2005).
Dissertation & Theses Collection.