Date of Award

5-2005

Level of Access

Open-Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Liberal Studies

Advisor

Phillip Pratt

Second Committee Member

Richard Campbell

Third Committee Member

Kenneth Nichols

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess whether the new admissions model implemented by the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) in spring 2001 improved the academic success of first-time students. In this study first-time associate degree seeking students at the Augusta campus of UMA were examined to assess the academic success for each of the 5 student cohorts (fall 1999 - fall 2003). Each cohort was segmented to separately identify those needing (1) adult education level remediation, (2) developmental remediation and (3) those not requiring remedial course work. The academic success of each group was measured by retention rates after 1 semester and after 1 year and by graduation rates after 3 years. The academic success of each group was evaluated using a Chi Square test for Independence to determine if there were any statistically significant differences in group retention rates and graduation rates. The results indicate no differences among the groups for retention rates or graduation rates. They also indicate the retention rates after 1 year ranged from 42.0% to 47.6% and that the first-time, full-time graduation rates for the first three student cohorts ranged from 6.2% to 1 1.2%. The mean grade point averages (GPA) for the fall term, the spring term and the first academic year of each cohort were compared using an Oneway Analyses of Variance (with Scheffe post hoc tests) to identify any statistically significant differences among the placement groups. Analysis of the results indicated that there only appeared to be statistically significant differences between the adult education group and the no placement group in three of five cohorts for the spring term GPA and in one of five cohorts for both the fall term GPA and the first academic year accumulative GPA. These findings seem to indicate that there was very little difference in the mean dependent GPAs of the three placement groups. Independent variables (gender, age, arithmetic and reading comprehension) were analyzed in an ordered entry multiple regression for each cohort to assess the extent to which these independent variables could be used to predict the dependent GPA variable (fall term GPA, spring term GPA and first academic year accumulative GPA). The results indicated that these independent variables, both individually and collectively were weak predictors of the dependent GPA variable as they only accounted for 12.9% to 28.8% of the variance. The Betas showed that age and gender were slightly stronger predictors than the test scores: arithmetic and reading comprehension. The study concluded that UMA's new admissions model did not improve the academic success of first-time associate degree seeking students at the Augusta campus. The study did show that UMA needs to identify ways to improve its retention and graduation rates for first-time students.

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