Academic journal article College Student Journal

Non-Cognitive Predictors of Student Success in College

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Non-Cognitive Predictors of Student Success in College

Article excerpt

College student success and graduation are important to students seeking a degree and to the nation's communities (Institute for Higher Education Policy, 1998), yet only just better than half of the students who enroll in 4-year colleges and universities will receive a bachelor's degree within 6 years (Astin, 1985). Past studies have shown that students who graduate from college also report gains in multiple areas such as factual knowledge, intellectual skills, and a "broad array of value, additudinal, psychosocial, and moral dimension" (Pascarella & Terezini, 1991, p. 557).

Traditional predictors of college persistence and academic success center on the student's high school grade point average (GPA) and standardized test scores, such as the American College Testing Program (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) as appropriate means for establishing admissions eligibility (Guidelines on the Uses of College Board Test Scores and Related Data, 1988). Historically, the traditional predictors of student success in college, ACT/SAT and high school GPA, have been shown to account for only a modest amount of variance (25%) of a student's academic performance in college as reflected by their GPA. According to Astin (1993), among the current admissions data available, a student's high school GPA and standardized test score were the two strongest predictors of his or her college GPA out of the current admissions data available. These data have yielded modest prediction results on a consistent basis. Due to these past findings, many scholars have called for more focus on nontraditional predictors of college performance. While high school GPA and standardized test scores have been shown to be the best predictors of college success, recent research demonstrates that high school GPA and ACT scores are unrelated to prediction of college graduation (Schuh, 1999). Success in college, as defined by student retention and academic performance, may be related to other variables or combinations of variables. This research explored potential effects of emotional intelligence on a student's ability to persist and graduate in a 4-year period.

Student Retention Models/Theories

Tinto (1993) believed that the level of integration is inversely related to the potential that a student will drop out. The more a student integrates, the less likely the student is to drop out of the institution. Tinto's model originally noted that integration of a student both academically and socially were indicators of his or her ability to persist in college. To be successful in the pursuit of a degree, students need to achieve a level of commitment to their career, academic goals, and the institution, as well. Tinto eventually expanded his model of integration to include stages such as separation, transition, adjustment, difficulty, incongruence, isolation, incorporation, finances, learning, and external obligations for commitments.

In 1980, Bean developed the Model of Student Departure. Based on organizational theory about attrition of employees, Bean stated that students possess certain characteristics that impact their perceptions and interactions with the educational institution. The student interacts with the institution, perceiving objective measures, such as grade point average or belonging to campus organizations, as well as subjective measures, such as the practical value of the education and the quality of the institution. These variables are, in turn, expected to influence the degree to which the student is satisfied with the institution. The level of satisfaction is expected to increase the level of institutional commitment. The lack of institutional commitment is seen as the leading indicator that a student will drop out of school (Bean, 1980, p. 160). Bean (1985) later revised his model, finding that a student's socialization is largely dependent upon the student, while interactions with other students are more important than informal contact with faculty. …

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