Survey on Factors Contributing to Student Success

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Transcript of Survey on Factors Contributing to Student Success

  • Factors Affecting Student Academic Success in Gateway Courses at Northern Arizona University

    Russell Benford Julie Gess-Newsome

    Center for Science Teaching and Learning Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ 86011-5697

    May 24, 2006

  • Factors Affecting Student Academic Success in Gateway Courses at Northern Arizona University

    Table of Contents

    Section Page Abstract 4 Introduction 5

    Predictors of Student Achievement in Introductory Business, Mathematics, and Science Courses 10 Predictors of Student Achievement in Business, Marketing, and Economics 11 Predictors of Student Achievement in Mathematics 13

    Predictors of Student Achievement in Computer Science 15

    Predictors of Student Achievement in Physics 18

    Predictors of Student Achievement in Chemistry 20

    Predictors of Student Achievement in Biology 21

    Summary of Factors That Predict Student Success in Introductory Business, Mathematics, and Science Courses 24 Interpreting Results of Predictive Studies in Business, Mathematics, and Science Education 27

    Methods 30

    Institutional Records and Public Data 31

    ABC and DFW Rates in Gateway Courses 32

    Characterizing ABC and DFW Students 34

    Student Survey 35

    1

  • Characterizing Students Educational and Socioeconomic Contexts 38 Characterizing Gateway Classrooms and Courses 39

    Development of Predictive Model 40

    Results 43

    Course-Oriented ABC and DFW Statistics 44

    ABC and DFW Rates in Gateway Courses 44

    Teaching Styles Used in Gateway Courses 45

    Student-Oriented ABC and DFW Statistics 47

    Student Demographics 49

    Student Perception of Course 59

    Student Academic Habits 68

    Effect of Class on Student 78

    Student Perception of College Life and NAU 82

    Predictors of Student Success 93

    Discussion 99 Summary and Interpretation of Results 99

    Conclusions and Recommendations 111 Student Recruitment 112

    Student Preparation 114

    Student & Faculty Diversity 115

    Curriculum Design & Implementation 118

    Identification & Intervention 120

    Acknowledgements 123

    2

  • References 125

    Appendix A: High Schools of Origin 140

    Appendix B: Survey on Factors Contributing to Student Success 143

    Appendix C: Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol 149

    3

  • Factors Affecting Student Academic Success in Gateway Courses at Northern Arizona University

    Abstract

    Students in gateway business, math, and science courses at Northern

    Arizona University receive non-passing grades (grades of D, F, and W) at high

    rates. To identify possible trends in demographic groups that receive DFWs and

    to investigate why students receive DFWs in these courses, a student survey

    was administered to 719 students in 7 gateway courses, and institutional data

    were collected on 23255 students enrolled in 15 gateway courses. Student

    achievement and socioeconomic data on high schools from which gateway

    students originated were also collected. Student and high school data were

    analyzed to elucidate differences between ABC and DFW students, and to

    determine if differences in DFW rates existed between genders and among

    ethnicities. To determine if instructional style of gateway courses affected DFW

    rates or patterns in the demographics of DFW distribution, an instrument was

    used to characterize instructional styles used in the 15 gateway courses.

    Resulting data were analyzed for trends in DFW rates, gender, and ethnicity.

    Data suggest that possible causes of DFWs are inadequate student recruitment

    standards, student academic underpreparedness, lack of student and faculty

    ethnic and cultural diversity and interaction, and ineffective and inequitable

    instructional techniques. Possible interventions are discussed.

    4

  • Factors Affecting Student Academic Success in Gateway Courses at Northern Arizona University

    Introduction

    The level of success students achieve in their first semesters of college

    has far-reaching implications for students personal and professional lives.

    Student success has an immediate influence on a students academic self-

    esteem, persistence in elected majors, and perseverance in higher education.

    Success in early semesters at college also ultimately impacts students post-

    college experiences, such as career choice, personal income and level of

    success, and degree and nature of participation in community life. Thus, the

    experience a student has in the introductory college classes she or he attends

    can have a significant influence on the course of that students adult life.

    It is therefore alarming that introductory college classes are among the

    least enjoyed and least understood classes in a students postsecondary

    academic career. Disaffection with and low performance in introductory college

    classes is a serious problem at colleges and universities nationwide (Horn et al.

    2002, Horn and Premo 1995). The problem is especially evident in introductory

    business, mathematics, and science courses. Such courses are often required

    and integral components of an undergraduate education, yet many students who

    enroll in these courses achieve moderate or low levels of success in them. Low

    levels of success in introductory business, mathematics, and science courses

    5

  • result in significant attrition of talented students in these areas of study (Gainen

    1995, Congress of the United States, Office of Technology Assessment 1988).

    Attrition in business, mathematics, and science courses does not occur in

    all demographic groups at an equal rate. Of the major ethnic groups in the

    United States, African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans are less

    likely to enroll in and more likely to resign from business, mathematics, and

    science-related majors. Additionally, females are less likely to enroll in and more

    likely to resign from these courses than are males (Brower and Ketterhagen

    2004, National Center for Educational Statistics 2002, Herndon and Moore 2002,

    Brush 1991, Hilton and Lee 1988). The greatest period of attrition for female

    students in science-related educational tracks is between the end of high school

    and the beginning of college (Oakes 1990). When the current employment

    demographics of science and science-related occupations in the United States

    are considered (Figures 1 and 2), the notion of undergraduate attrition in the

    groups that are least well-represented in these areas of employment is

    disturbing.

    6

  • 0102030405060708090

    100

    Entire Workforce Science & EngineeringOccupations

    MaleFemale

    Figure 1: Gender trends in employment (bachelors or higher degree recipients) in the United States (National Science Foundation 2004)

    0

    10

    20

    30

    40

    50

    60

    70

    80

    90

    100

    WhiteAsianBlackHispanicNative AmericanOther

    Figure 2: Ethnic trends in science and engineering occupations (bachelors or higher degree recipients) in the United States (National Science Foundation 2004)

    As these data indicate, student disaffection with and attrition in

    introductory business, mathematics, and science courses is a national problem.

    The problem is also, unfortunately, a local one. Levels of student dissatisfaction

    with and rates of attrition in introductory business, mathematics, and science

    7

  • courses at Northern Arizona University are consistent with national trends (Office

    of Planning and Research 2003, Horn et al. 2002). Because student satisfaction

    and perseverance are vital to student success in college, understanding factors

    that diminish student satisfaction and perseverance is necessary if these

    problems are to be addressed and overcome. Understanding these factors and

    implementing administrative changes to address them is especially important in

    entry-level courses, where student attitudes and habits are fundamentally

    shaped.

    Large enrollment, entry-level college courses that are prerequisites for

    majors or graduation are commonly called gateway courses. Students enrolled

    in gateway courses in business, math, and science at Northern Arizona

    University (NAU) receive grades of D, F, or W at an alarmingly high rate (mean =

    27.1%, SD 8.3%*). Such a high DFW rate in gateway courses is of particular

    concern, because these courses are populated primarily with freshmen and

    sophomores, and the experiences of these lower division students are likely to

    affect these students personal choices at and after college.

    It is therefore important to characterize the individuals and groups who

    have recently received final grades of D, F, or W in these courses, and, if trends

    in these demographics are apparent, to understand why such individuals and

    groups have received these grades. Once this is done, a method for identifying

    individuals who are at increased risk of receiving these grades in the future could

    be developed, and strategies to help students succeed in these co