Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Education

Degree Name

Ed.D.

Department

Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Sheila Gregory

Second Advisor

Dr Moses Norman

Third Advisor

Dr. Trevor Turner

Abstract

The University System of Georgia (USG) requires students take the COMPASS placement exam to determine their academic level and if they are ready for the rigor of college-level courses prior to taking any courses. The COMPASS evaluates students’ skill levels in reading, writing, math, and English as a Second Language (ESL) (American College Testing [ACT], 2010). Students who test below the acceptable standard scores are placed into Learning Support (LS) courses, designed to help build the foundational skills needed for success in college-level courses. A student is successful if he or she passes the LS course(s) with a grade of C or better and pass the COMPASS exit exam for that LS area. If students are not able to exit LS in the allotted amount of time, they are placed on LS exclusion for one year during which they are not allowed to attend any USG school. In the fall of 2009, the college used in this study had one of the largest enrollments of Learning Support students in the USG with 57.9% of the total enrollment. The problem is that over half of these students are not matriculating to their college-level courses. The economic impact on both the students and the institution is huge. Nationally, approximately 60% of students entering community colleges are required to take at least one remediation course and less than 25% of these earn a college degree or certificate within eight years (Bailey & Woo Cho, 2010). The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine factors that influence the success of Learning Support students as measured by their LS course grades and their COMPASS exit exam scores. The following independent variables were examined: Curriculum Alignment of Learning Support Courses with the COMPASS exit exam, Higher Education Seminar (HEDS1011), Purpose, Frequency, and Use, of the Learning and Tutoring Center, Instructional Delivery of Learning Support courses, Academic Advising, Academic Self-Efficacy, Number of Learning Support Areas, Number of Learning Support Courses, Student Status, Enrollment Status, Employment Status, Caregiver Status, Generational Status, and High School Grade Point Average. A correlation study was conducted using the variables that were identified to determine if there is a significant relationship between the dependent and each independent variable. A regression analysis was used to determine the order of contributions by each independent variable to the dependent variable. The results indicated the following: a lack of curriculum alignment between the LS courses and the COMPASS exit exam and students’ personal characteristics more so than institutional characteristics affect students’ success in Learning Support. In an effort to increase degree attainment in the United States, President Obama seta goal for an additional five million community college graduates by the year 2020. This is an additional 280,000 more degrees and certificates per year. The researcher developed success strategies for the institution to utilize to help improve the success rates of their Learning Support students.

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