Nontraditional and traditional community college students: A comparison of two predictor equations for academic achievement

Ferris Roger Byxbe

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between student academic achievement--measured by cumulative grade point average--and multiple variables that may have an impact upon student performance in the academic arena. Additionally, the study examined the data for any significant differences that may exist between two predictor equations that would indicate that nontraditional students are indeed engaged in a self-directed style of learning. In order to examine these issues, 690 individual records were selected from a student population which consisted of individuals enrolled at Pearl River Community College from 1993 through 1996. The population for this study included 533 traditional students and 157 nontraditional students. Multiple linear regression was selected as the most appropriate statistical analysis for this study because the primary objective was to examine the predictive value of variables selected from post-hoc student data that may be utilized to assess student academic performance. The researcher concluded that the overall GPAs for nontraditional students were significantly higher than the GPAs for traditional students at the.01 level. In addition, the analysis of data revealed that of the variables selected for this study, only the variables ACT composite score and program of study could serve as predictors of academic performance for nontraditional students. Furthermore, the analysis of data revealed that of the variables selected for this study, only the variables ACT composite score, program of study, race, and marital status could serve as predictors of academic performance for traditional students. However, regression analysis failed to reveal the variables responsible for the superior grades of nontraditional students. Thus, the value of both predictor equations is modest at best. The significantly higher grades tend to support the claim of adult educators that nontraditional students comport with the theory of andragogy as purported by Knowles. Thus, it can be concluded that the superior grades of nontraditional students over that of traditional students is likely to be attributed to the self-directed characteristics exhibited by adult learners in the course of their studies.