– 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.