Type of Document Dissertation Author Zhou, Juan URN etd-07062010-225700 Title The Impact Of Engagement On The Academic Performance And Persistence Of First-year College Students At A Four-year Public Institution Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Shouping Hu Committee Chair Jon Dalton Committee Member Robert Schwartz Committee Member Diana Rice University Representative Keywords
- Student Engagement
- Academic Performance
Date of Defense 2010-06-10 Availability unrestricted AbstractHigher education stake holders and policy makers attach great importance to the accountability issue. Among the accountability measures, student academic performance and persistence are the two most commonly used college outcomes. Numerous studies have been focused on the factors affecting academic performance and persistence to provide implications for institution administrators in improving the accountability issue. Among the various factors, student engagement is a very popular variable that is demonstrated to be related to college outcomes.
Engagement is defined as (Hu & Kuh, 2002, p.555) “the quality of effort students themselves devote to educationally purposeful activities that contribute directly to desired outcomes”. However, the engagement studies mainly looked at the outcomes throughout the college years. Few studies explored the relationship between engagement and student outcomes for freshmen. This study aims at expanding the research in this area. The purpose of this study is to explore the relationship between first year college student engagement and their outcomes—academic performance represented by GPA and persistence. There are two guiding research questions to this study: 1) Is there a significant relationship between student engagement and student persistence among first year college students? 2) Is there a significant relationship between student engagement and student academic performance among first year college students? For the first question, since persistence was treated as a dichotomous variable in the study, binary logistic regression was used. For the second question, since GPA was treated as a continuous variable, multiple regression was used. The study also explored the impact of certain student characteristics on student outcomes. The set of characteristics includes gender, race/ethnicity, high school GPA, SAT/ACT scores, father’s education level, mother’s education level, financial aid, and enrollment status.
The study utilized NSSE data from a southeastern four year public institution, combining it with student records obtained from the registrar’s office from the same institution. There are 466 freshmen included in this study. These freshmen entered the university in the Fall semester of 2004. They took part in the NSSE survey in the Spring of 2005.
The results of this study indicated that engagement did not have significant impact on student persistence at the end of first year and,when engagement was represented by NSSE total scores, it was significantly correlated with student academic performance in the first year of college. However, when engagement was treated as five categorical variables, none of the variables showed significant impact on academic performance. It was found that student characteristics had limited impact on student persistence and academic performance. By the end of the first year in college, however, student academic performance and student persistence were significantly correlated.
The findings of the study do provide implications for institution administrators and policy makers. They also provide directions for potential future research.
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