Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Factors Influencing University Student Academic Success

Academic journal article Educational Research Quarterly

Factors Influencing University Student Academic Success

Article excerpt


The point where social integration and academic success intersect has fascinated higher education theorists for decades (Astin, 1984; Braxton, Doyle, Hardey III, Jones, & McLendon, 2014; Chapman & Pascarella, 1983; French, 2017; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991; Tinto, 1975, 1993). As a general rule, student academic success is measured in one of two ways: acute academic performance (e.g. grades, semester course completion) and continuous academic performance (e.g. student persistence, institutional retention) (Bloemer, Day, & Swan, 2017; Connolly, Flynn, Jemmott, Oestreicher, 2017; Severiens, Meeuwisse, & Born, 2015). Rarely has anyone studied whether social integration influences acute academic success, such as class grade. The purpose of the present research is to identify influences for an acute measure of student academic success.

In a previous study, Littlepage and Hepworth (2015) applied theoretical constructs of Braxton's et al. (2014) persistence theory for residential colleges and universities to the dependent variable of acute academic performance. The measure of acute academic performance was the course grade for an introductory to criminal justice course, that serves as both a university elective and gateway course to the criminal justice program; in that study, those variables were found to have no significant impact on class performance. The intention of the present study is to expand on that analysis with additional variables and stronger analytical methods allowed by a much larger sample size. The theoredcal basis for this study comes from two primary sources: Tinto's (1975, 1987) interactionalist theory, expanded upon by Braxton et al. (2014) as well as the body of literature which examines the impact of academic preparedness of students on their academic success.

Literature Review

Tinto's (1975) interactionalist theory proposed that a student's willingness to integrate themselves socially at an institution and the perceived care for them employed by the institution increases the likelihood the student will remain enrolled at that institution. In a revision of his original theory, Tinto (1993) acknowledged other factors influence persistence, such as financial resources, experiences, and interactions within the classroom.

Researchers have scrutinized various iterations of Tinto's work (Chapman et al., 1983; French, 2017; LundyWagner, 2012). Other studies found influences beyond social integration impact academic performance, such as student background and motivation (Flynn, 2014; Vanthournout, Gijbels, Coertjens, Donche, & Van Petegem, 2012; Wolfe, 1993), degree and style of classroom organization, availability of faculty and other support services, style of classroom instruction, and enrollment in a first-year transitions course (Hopper, 2011; Kluger & Koslowsky, 1988; Kot, 2014; Lundquist, Spalding, & Landrum, 2002; Moore, 2007; Montgomery, Jeffs, Schlegel, & Jones, 2009; Pascarella, Seifert, & Whitt, 2008; Schenker-Wield & Inauen, 2012; Wyatt & Bloemker, 2013).

Braxton notably scrutinized Tinto's (1975, 1987, 1993) original research in a series of persistence-related studies (Braxton et al., 1997, 2004, 2014). In 1997, Braxton and associates sampled residential college students and reiterated Tinto's (1975) early finding that social integration and institutional commitment to student success, influences student persistence toward graduation. Braxton and associates (2004) revised and expanded upon the interactionalist theory, placing additional emphasis on student social integration, perception of institutional commitment to student success, and other additional factors, such as ability to pay for school, perceived potential for an on-campus community, and perceived level of institutional integrity. This revised theory was later tested (Braxton et al., 2014) and student social integration and perception of institutional commitment to student success were identified as key variables influencing persistence into subsequent academic years at the school. …

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