Document Type

Conference Proceeding


Paper presented at the 40th Annual Conference of the Northeastern Educational Research Association, Rocky Hill, Connecticut, October 21-23, 2009.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between self-efficacy or belief in one’s capability (Bandura 1977b, 1986, 1993, 1997) and first-term GPA, attendance, and retention using a modified version of the General Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE) (Schwarzer, 1992, 1993, 2005; Schwarzer & Jerusalem, 1993).

The study “College” is part of one of the world’s largest for-profit career education organizations. At the College, 100% of the students commute to classes and live in the metropolitan area. A large percentage of students live in difficult urban neighborhoods and grow up with low family income, abuse, gang violence, drugs, health problems, poor English, and academic underachievement.

A study of student responsibility indicated that 54% of community college students are under the age of 25 and are not prepared academically or psychologically for what will be expected (Howell, 2001). They work to support dependents, frequently require childcare assistance, question their academic ability and perceive teachers as experts who dispense information and wisdom, and are frequently first-generation students.

First-term student success at the College is measured by academic achievement (a required minimum GPA of 1.5 on a scale of 0 to 4.0). Many students receive formal academic warnings at the end of their first term because of poor academic performance in terms of GPA (1.5-2.0) or are involuntarily withdrawn for a GPA less than 1.5.

The College has an open-admissions policy. Only a high school diploma or a GED is required for entry. Admissions representatives have a quota of students to recruit each term. Consequently, admission standards are flexible, as would be expected in a for-profit college. In this business context, being able to predict those students likely to earn a GPA of 1.5, consistently attend classes, and return for the next term translates into institutional success because continuing students generate future cash flow and profitability. The educational issue is being able to identify those students who need academic support to succeed. The purpose of this study was to determine if the construct of self-efficacy (Bandura 1977b, 1986, 1993, 1997) can predict student success and identify “at risk” students at the start of their first term at the College.

Citation/Publisher Attribution

Becker, S.P., Gable, R. K. (2009). The relationship of self-efficacy with GPA, attendance, and college student retention. Paper presented at the Northeast Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Rocky Hill, CT.



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