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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.
Higher education|Educational psychology
Libutti, Dean D, "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" (2005). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI3234444.