Higher Education Dissertations

The impact of the interactive learning model as an effective tool to enhance retention rates and grade point averages for criminal justice majors at Cumberland County College

by Kocher, Charles James, Ed.D., Saint Joseph’s University, 2007, 115 pages; AAT 3263198


Colleges throughout the United States have continued to examine retention rates and grade point averages of students. Scores of researchers have attempted to find the proper approach to serve as a best practice model to enhance both student retention rates and grade point averages (GPA). Generally, the research studies have identified a myriad of pre-entry characteristics such as high school performance, achievement testing and guidance and post-entry characteristic such as financial difficulties, personal problems, institution adjustment, and student-instructor characteristics. This study examined the impact of an instructional learning model known as [the Let Me Learn Process®] as well as gender on the retention rates and GPA of 499 first year freshmen students majoring in criminal justice attending a two-year college. The ILM is a learning strategy that involves a process for both faculty and students to understand how learning is taking place within themselves as well as the classroom. The results of this study that gender was not significant for student GPA or retention. The statistical data of the study does indicate that criminal justice student retention rates were moderately affected when students were exposed to the ILM. Students who experienced the full exposure to the ILM (full-cohort) remained in the Criminal Justice Studies program at a statistically significant higher rate than students who have not experienced ILM. Specific recommendations are included in the study.

Predictor variables of academic success for first-time freshmen at Clemson University

by Lane, Cheryl Olivia Ph.D., Clemson University, 2003, 80 pages; AAT 3098289


The traditional pre-admission variables admission test scores

predicted grade ratio, standardized class rank, high school grade point ratio evaluated in this study for significance as predictor variables for first-time freshmen for grade point ration for Fall of 2000. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions at Clemson University provided the data set for the first-time Fall Freshmen Class of 2000 on the traditional pre-admission variables. The Academic Support Center at Clemson University provided the matching archived data from the Clemson University Student Data Warehouse for the Fall 2000 semester hours attempted and end of fall semester grade point ratio for the same freshmen. The nontraditional pre-admission variables considered for significance as predictor variables of academic success were measured using the Learning Connections Inventory Developed by Johnston and Dainton (LCI) (1997). The various forms of the LCI are designed to produce scores on the sequential, precise, technical reasoning, and confluent learning patterns of persons from Grade 1 through the professional adult level. Higher SAT M, Predicted Grade Point Ratio, High School Grade Point Ratio, and ACT scores are predictors of first-time freshmen for Fall of 2000 earning a 2.0 or greater Grade Point Ratio (GPR). Gender (male) is a predictor of the first-time freshmen earning less than a 2.0 GPR. Also it was determined that the higher the technical reasoning scores on the LCI Form II, the more likely the first-time freshmen earned less than a 2.0 for Fall semester 2000 at Clemson University

Metacognition as vehicle for organizational change: How “thinking about thinking” and intentional learning break the mold of “heroic” teaching in higher education

by Pearle, Kathleen M. Ed.D., Rowan University, 2003, 210 pages; AAT 3115307


Nationwide, community colleges gauge institutional success by documenting progress in efforts to foster student success. An important measure of student success is the rate of course and degree completion. Yet national data on retention reveals serious challenges to community college leaders: a 35% success rate is not uncommon. Between 1999 and 2001, faculty, staff, students and facilitators at Foothill College used an interactive learning model (ILM) to launch a pilot project aimed at improving student persistence and retention rates. The design of the project, which required faculty to come to grips with both the theoretical underpinnings and the practical implementation of the ILM in their classrooms, brought forth the following leadership challenge: the faculty was both the source of support for, and the source of resistance to, the change which would necessarily occur.

Resistance occurred when the assumptions–individually constructed mental models and institutional norms alike–which faculty brought to this project were challenged. Postsecondary culture, hardly exclusive to Foothill, rewards individual (lone, even “heroic”) achievement, expertise in specific–and often methodologically and conceptually discrete or even isolated–academic disciplines, and a pedagogy, which favors instruction as information delivery from the lectorate. Structural constraints on faculty time, energy, and group process were also obstructionist factors in the challenge of facilitating the pilot project. In short, the problem of faculty retention and persistence in the pilot project had to be addressed before the pilot could ever make a difference in boosting student rates of retention and persistence.

Because the design of the project utilized both a structural framework for promoting growth and change in learning capabilities and an action research approach to the collection and utilization of data, it was possible during the first year to discover and draw out the positive components of the faculty culture which could help to sustain commitment to the project while the culture shift necessary to the project’s survival unfolded–a shift to the culture of intentional teaching and learning. This dissertation contains the narrative and analysis of both of those components of change and offers recommendations for sustaining change in higher education.