Date of Award

Summer 8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Chair

Dr. Willie Pierce

Committee Chair Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 2

Dr. John Rachal

Committee Member 3

Dr. Linda Harper

Committee Member 4

Dr. Lilian Hill

Committee Member 5

Dr. James T. Johnson

Abstract

The main purpose of the study was to determine the effect of academic preparation in basic skills classes on the academic performance in subsequent collegelevel classes for non-traditional students. A secondary purpose was to determine if academic preparation in basic skills classes had a long-term effect on academic performance as measured by graduation GPA. A third purpose was to obtain the perspectives of non-traditional students about the effect of academic preparation in basic skills classes on academic performance in subsequent college-level classes.

Methodology included statistical comparisons of grade distributions and GPA using archival data from the Banner student record system, and a comparison of interview data for two groups: non-traditional students who took basic skills classes and Precalculus Algebra or English Composition I and non-traditional students who did not take basic skills classes but did take Precalculus Algebra or English Composition I.

Statistical analysis showed a significant difference in the grades of non-traditional students who had basic skills classes before taking Precalculus Algebra or English Composition I and non-traditional students who took Precalculus Algebra or English Composition I without taking basic skills classes. Non-traditional students with basic skills classes made better grades, passed at a higher rate, and withdrew at a lower rate than students without basic skills classes, clearly demonstrating the benefit of basic skills classes for non-traditional students. Although the mean graduation GPA for nontraditional students with basic skills classes was greater than the mean graduation GPA for non-traditional students without basic skills classes, the difference was not statistically significant.

Non-traditional students with basic skills classes who were interviewed indicated that even though they would not have taken the basic skills classes without placement into them, they found these classes to be beneficial and would recommend them to other non-traditional students, especially non-traditional students with an extended lapse of time before enrolling in college. Study results confirmed that a review of basic skills can make college-level courses easier and improve grades for non-traditional students.

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