Academic journal article College Student Journal

Personal Factors Impacting College Student Success: Constructing College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI)

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Personal Factors Impacting College Student Success: Constructing College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI)

Article excerpt

The College Learning Effectiveness Inventory, a new assessment tool identifying personal variables important to college student success, was constructed using empirical approaches grounded in a conceptual model. The exploratory and confirmatory studies revealed the six-underlying factors: Academic Self-Efficacy, Organization and Attention to Study, Stress and Time Press, Involvement with College Activity, Emotional Satisfaction, and Class Communication. Future research on the predictive validity would provide evidence to support use of the CLEI as a screening tool to design interventions for student academic success and retention efforts.

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An important question that has been addressed for decades in higher education is what individual factors impact student progress toward achieving academic goals. College success could mean many different outcomes for any individual; however commonly held definitions include acceptable grade averages, retention toward a degree, and attainment of productive life skills. College success is important to students because it demonstrates that they are meeting the expectation to achieve desired learning goals and, thereby, improve their chances of meeting long-term personal and career goals. Students' academic success is important to the institution because it demonstrates the accomplishment of its mission to educate and prepare students for life beyond college. Drop-outs may indicate an institution's lack of responsiveness to meeting student needs, a failure to prepare and support student progress, and, in a practical sense, create a financial debit to the institution by losing a paying consumer. Retention efforts incorporate many strategies, including special preparation courses, first-year adjustment seminars, academic success centers, advising interventions, tutorial programs, and counseling. These are all investments by the institution to improve student opportunities for success. In order to choose the most productive individual or collective intervention methods, it is crucial for institutions to accurately assess those factors that help students succeed or cause students to drop out.

What are the variables that impact student success? Can we predict how specific factors influence individual student outcomes? Seidman (2005) indicates that a retention formula for student success starts with an early assessment that has the power to develop a diagnosis of individual needs followed by a prescription for action. Tinto (1987; 2005) indicates this formula may be complicated by the fact that we know more about student attrition than student persistence, or stated differently, more about the disease than the cure. The key for improving student success is to operate from a research-based theory to identify the personal factors that create interference with academic success and that, in turn, can be used to guide a productive plan of action. The focus of this article is to describe the development of a valid and reliable assessment tool identifying variables important to individual student success.

Three Categories of Variables Influencing Student Success

Academic Achievement and Aptitude. Traditionally, the best predictors of college persistence and success have been measures of high-school achievement (e.g., grade-point average, achievement tests) followed by generalized measures of achievement or aptitude (e.g., SAT, ACT). In an article published in the Journal of Higher Education, Emme (1942) summarized research at that time that identified variables predicting college success. The author noted, in spite of considerable inconsistency in findings, that the most predictive measures were indices of previous achievement and intelligence aptitude. These factors, when averaged, fell generally into a range of a .50 correlation with measures of college academic success. The achievement formula is still evidenced today by the wide spread use of high-school records and ACT/SAT testing for admission screening and placement. …

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