• Psychological Factors in the Academic Achievement of Remedial-level English Students in Community College

      Farley, Frank; DuCette, Joseph P.; Rotheram-Fuller, Erin; Schifter, Catherine; Stahler, Gerald (Temple University. Libraries, 2012)
      Rates of in-coming college students in need of academic remediation are on the rise, for both community college and four-year colleges. Consequently, many of these students will be required to enroll in some level of academic remediation in reading, writing and/or math to develop the basic skills necessary for student success in college-level courses. Poor completion rates in remedial courses and the limited progression by remedial students to enter advanced college-level study make these students more "at-risk" for course failure and subsequent college drop-out. This study is designed to help educators and college administrators understand the cognitive and non-cognitive factors of academic achievement as they develop educational programs that that involve community college students in remediation. This study examines the various factors most associated with academic achievement for community college students in remedial English classes. The predictor variables were categorized into three groups: demographic, psychological and academic aptitude. The relationship between academic achievement and the predictor variables was investigated through self-reported data provided by 395 remedial-level students from a community college in the Northeastern United States. The self-report data were gathered through a questionnaire that contained a combination of sub-scales from standardized instruments. Additional data, such as, official final course grade and Accuplacer pre and post-test scores, matriculation status and degree program were provided by the community college involved in this study. To determine which variables are most predictive of academic success, independent-samples-t-tests and binary logistic regressions were conducted on all the significant demographic, achievement and psychological predictor variables. Results of this study suggest that the Accuplacer reading pre-test scores are the only predictor of academic success in remedial-level College writing, whereas, decreased levels of school engagement and self-doubt, student-predicted final course grade, race and Accuplacer pre-test reading scores predict academic success for remedial reading students. Additionally, this study revealed that students who completed the remedial-course had increased Accuplacer reading scores which demonstrated significant improvement in reading comprehension. However, African-American students performed lower than all other racial groups on this assessment and illustrated the Matthew effect, or a widening of the achievement gap. It is important to acknowledge that this sample deviates significantly from what is expected at both the traditional four-year and community college. This study captured a very large sample of African American students (48%) and other minority groups (32%) in remedial education at a community college. It is likely that the factors that affect academic achievement in this group are very different from what has been previously investigated among a more traditional college population. In light of the evidence presented in this research, higher education administrators, educators and researchers must be aware of the differences that exist between remedial-level students in reading and writing courses. Results from this study can inform students, parents, educators and higher education administrators about the factors most associated with academic success in remedial-English courses at community colleges. These findings could also be used to inform, and provide support for, the development of new student services procedures designed to help incoming and at-risk students achieve success.