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					                     – Strategies for Success –
                         Comparing academic performance of students with and
                         without Strategies for Success student retention course




The 3rd Annual Best Practices                        Karine B. Blackett, M.S.
and Great Ideas Conference                           Manager of Career Services & Special Projects
                                                     National American University
presented by
National American University and                     Distance Learning Campus
                                                     5301 S. Highway 16, Suite 200
The Pacific Institute
                                                     Rapid City, SD 57701
April 27 & 28, 2006                                  605.394.4970 Telephone
Minneapolis, Minnesota                               605.394.5082 Fax
                                                     kblackett@national.edu
                                                                                              Strategies for Success 2




                                        – Strategies for Success –
                              Comparing academic performance of students with and
                              without Strategies for Success student retention course



        Many institutions of higher learning offer student retention courses designed to provide

first-time learners with the skills necessary to succeed in college. Conventional courses often

focus on basic study skills and other traditional orientation topics. Other courses present a much

broader perspective by providing students with essential skills to succeed in life, as well as

college. National American University (NAU)1 offers such a course, entitled Strategies for

Success, which utilizes material developed by The Pacific Institute2, and the textbook, College

Success Guide.3

        The results of a recent study conducted by Karine Blackett demonstrate a strong

relationship between NAU’s Strategies for Success course and enhanced academic performance.

Students involved in the study who completed Strategies for Success had significantly higher

grade point averages (GPAs) one year after the completing course than students who did not take

the course.

Method

        The study was conducted using a two-sample T test method. Data for the project was

collected for students first enrolled at NAU’s campus in Rapid City, South Dakota, during Fall

2003. Information was obtained from CampusVue, NAU’s information management system.



1
  National American University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North
Central Association of Colleges and Schools, www.ncahlc.org, 312.263.0456
2
  “The Pacific Institute's curriculum is based on cognitive science, including modern cognitive theory of human
behavior, a conceptual framework that emphasizes the importance of the mind on the human behavior.” www
http://www.pac-inst.com/Library/library.html, 800.426.3660
3
  Blackett, K., & Weiss, P. (2005). College Success Guide. JIST: Indianapolis.
                                                                                   Strategies for Success 3



Only full-time students enrolled in at least nine quarter credit hours of courses were selected for

the study. Students were then divided into two groups: those students who had completed

Strategies for Success and those students who had not taken the course. The resulting number

(N1) of students who took Strategies for Success (SFS) was 62. The number (N2) of students

who did not take SFS was 35.

       The null hypothesis was set to be Ho: Mean GPA “Yes Took SFS” group= Mean GPA

“No Took SFS” group. The alternate hypothesis was H1: Mean GPA “Yes SFS group” does not

equal the Mean GPA for “No SFS” group. A two-sample T test was run using the calculator and

verified with Excel to find the results of this test. The alpha level for the level of significance

(rejection level) was selected to be .05.

                                     Two Sample T Test Results




                  P= .00157
                  T=3.319


       The mean GPA for learners who took Strategies for Success was 3.11, while the mean

GPA for those learners who did not take the course was 2.30. For the two-sample T test, the t at

(.05) (df =57.55/calculator two-sample t test) using Table E10 (Howell, 2004) gave the level of

significance for two-tailed test for alpha .05 at approximately t = (+/-) 2.009. The t for this
                                                                                           Strategies for Success 4



project was 3.319, which is greater than 2.009. If the df is N = (97 –2) or N = 95 at .05 alpha the

significance level is approximately t=1.98. Again, 3.319 t is greater than 1.98, resulting in a

rejection of the null. Furthermore, using Table E2 (Howell, 2004) the p value at significance

level .05 is about .214. The calculated p is very small (p = .00157). With a null hypothesis of

Ho: p = 0 against Ho: p (not =) 0 (Howell, 2004, p. 186) the findings were that the p is much less

than the significance level of .05, again leading to reject the null hypothesis. The results are

charted in Tables 1 and 2 below.
                                                       Table 1

                                           Students w ith Strategies Class
                                            Students w ith Strategies Class

                           5
                               5
                           4
                               4
                           3
                               3
                     GPA
                    GPA




                           2
                               2
                           1
                               1
                           0
                               0
                                1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61
                                 1 4 7 10 13 16 19 22 25 28 31 34 37 40 43 46 49 52 55 58 61
                                                        Students
                                                         Students



                                                        Table 2

                                         Students with No Strategies Class

                               5
                           4.5
                               4
                           3.5
                               3
                     GPA




                           2.5
                               2
                           1.5
                               1
                           0.5
                               0
                                                          Students
                                                                                Strategies for Success 5




Conclusion

       The results of this simple two-sample T test project allow a conclusion that the students

who took Strategies for Success had significantly higher GPAs (mean 3.11 vs. mean 2.30) than

students who did not take the course. Karine Blackett is continuing her study of the effect of

Strategies for Success upon student retention rates and academic success through a dissertation

in her doctoral program.

References

Howell, D. (2004). Fundamental Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (5th ed.). Pacific Grove,
CA: Duxbury Press.

				
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