The Effects of Academic Environment and Background Characteristics on Student Satisfaction and Performance: The Case of South Carolina State University's School of Business

Article excerpt

In the increasingly competitive markets for high quality students entering colleges or universities, this article examines and evaluates factors affecting student behavior and performance at a historically black college or university such as South Carolina State University. Specifically, the study seeks to determine the impact of academic climate, background and social environment on student performance and satisfaction. A five-point scale was used to address student preferences and satisfaction with academic programs and various services. The Chi-square tests and Likelihood ratio test statistics reveal that satisfaction with academic environment and services as well as the precedent high school achievements are significantly correlated with college performance. The probability distribution of college majors, the adequacy of library services, and the out-of-class experiences are also significantly associated with positive college outcomes.

I. Introduction

The education profession has experienced significant changes and revisions of curriculum and program requirements in the past decade. The changes brought new educational challenges and opportunities. Although some colleges experienced enrollment declines from time to time, most postsecondary enrollments have notably increased in all parts of the country and every community (Associated Press, 1998).

Educational standards are continuously revised and often raised while competition for high-achieving students has intensified (Hu & Hossler, 2000; McPherson & Shapiro, 1998). The initiatives are intended to meet challenges stemming from increased demand for educational reforms and new programs. Indeed, the key to enhanced learning is the creation of an environment that encourages students to pursue educational activities in-and-outside classrooms (Graham and Gisi, 2000). Thus, at South Carolina State University (SCSU) School of Business, professional development programs, internship programs, and an office of student services have been created, integrated, and structured to attract, retain, and help students in their professional and academic development.

In the increasingly competitive markets for high quality students entering colleges or universities, there is a need to identify and evaluate the effects of the factors affecting decisions to attend a particular college or university, performance and satisfaction in college. Such factors include the family socioeconomic background, student academic achievement, and the educational achievements of both parents. These factors create a learning environment that affects positive college outcomes and performance (Kuh and Hu, 2001a). Furthermore, the level of education and the social status of parents are perceived as factors that foster a socio-cultural background conducive to positive college experience and learning. Since students are in a unique position to provide an assessment of their choice of college or university, their educational expectations, duties, responsibilities, and their performance a survey of such students is in order.

The purpose of this study is twofold. First, this study is intended to address factors affecting college outcomes at a historically black college or university (HBCU). The results are expected to contribute to the body of knowledge of the impacts of socio-economic and environmental factors on positive college outcomes for the underrepresented segment of the higher education population. This research study includes a survey of intervening factors such as socioeconomic, demographic, and environmental variables used to evaluate the impact of these factors on college choice and performance.

Second, while previous studies have generally addressed and evaluated specific impacts of selected factors affecting college learning and experiences in mostly white institutions (Kuh& Hu, 200la; Terenzini, Pascarella & Blimling, 1996), little effort has been devoted to learning college outcomes and factors correlated to success at HBCU's and/or other minority institutions. …


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