Probation/Dismissal/Reinstatement Related Research Literature
by NACADA PDR Interest
Group Steering Committee
(1&2), 32-39. NACADA Journal
, 21 Abelman,
R., & Molina, A. (2001). Style over substance revisited: A
longitudinal analysis of intrusive intervention.
45-47. NACADA Journal, 17, M., Cherney, E., Crowner,
J., & Hill, A. (1997). The forum: Intrusive group advising
for the probationary student.Austin
(2), 27-33. NACADA Journal, 8 Earl,
W. R. (1988). Intrusive advising of freshmen in academic difficulty.
, 373-374. Journal of College Student
Development, 30 Fish,
L. S., Blumberg, P., & Ledet, A. O. (1989). Students on academic
probation: A family systems analysis.
, 371-372. Journal of College Student Development
, 31 Foreman,
J., Wilkie, C., & Keilen, K. (1990). Fostering the success
of students who are experiencing academic probation at a small
liberal arts college.
(2), 97-104. New
Directions for Community Colleges, 21 Garing,
M. T. (1992). Intrusive academic advising.
(1), 22-25. NACADA Journal, 10 Garnett,
D. T. (1990). Retention strategies for high-risk students at a
(1), 8-12. NACADA Journal,
K. M., & Gahn, S. W. (1994). Predictors of success for academically
dismissed students following readmission.
1), 69-83. College Student Journal,
36 ( Heisserer,
D. L., & Parrette, P. (2002). Advising at-risk students in
college and university settings.
28-33. NACADA Journal, 16 Kelley,
K. N. (1996). Causes, reactions, and consequences of academic
probation: A theoretical model.
C., Hutson, B., Amundsen, S., & Atwood, J. (2007). A Motivational/
Empowerment Model applied to students on academic probation. Journal
of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice,
8 (4), 397-412.
M., & Nishida, D. (2001). Effect of low and high advisor involvement
on the academic performances of probation students. 21 (1&2),
(1), 7-15. Journal of
the Freshman Year Experience, 2 Lipsky,
S. A., & Ender, S. C. (1990). Impact of a study skills course
on probationary students’ academic performance.
(3), 245-254. Journal of College Student Retention
, 5 Mann,
J. R., Hunt, M. D., & Alford, J. G. (2004). Monitored probation:
A program that works.
(1), 35-37. NACADA Journal
, 16 Meadows,
D. C., & Tharp, T. J. (1996). Suspended students: An analysis
of suspension length and returning semester GPA.
598-601. Journal of Reading, 33 ( Mealey,
D. L. (1990). Understanding the motivation problems of at-risk
(2), 5-15. NACADA
Journal, 20 Molina,
A., & Abelman, R. (2000). Style over substance in interventions
for at-risk students: The impact of intrusiveness.
(1), 29-34. NACADA Journal, 8 Patrick,
J., Furlow, J. W., & Donovan, S. (1988), Using a comprehensive
academic intervention program in the retention of high-risk students,
(1), 43-50. NASPA Journal, 30 Schultz,
R. A., Dickman, M. M., Campbell, N. J., & Snow, B. M. (1992).
Assessing a short-term intervention to facilitate academic success.
239-251. Journal of College Student Retention, 2 Trombley,
C. M. (2001). Evaluating students on probation and determining
intervention strategies: A comparison of probation and good standing
Reference: Abelman, R., & Molina, A. (2001). Style over substance revisited: A longitudinal analysis of intrusive intervention. NACADA Journal , 21 (1&2), 32-39.
In a recent report, the authors showed that the academic intervention process, rather than the specific intervention content, was responsible for a short-term influx in at-risk student performance and persistence. Students in varying degrees of academic probation were randomly assigned to one of three intervention strategies that incorporated controlled content but divergent levels of intrusiveness. Results showed that the most intrusive intervention produced higher cumulative grade-point averages and retention rates for all at-risk students. This follow-up study on the long-term impact of these one-time interventions confirms results regarding performance and persistence. Some intrusion is better than none in academic advising.
The researchers in the original study found that the more intrusive the intervention – if it included personal contact, generated student responsibility for problem solving and decision making, assisted the student in identifying resolvable causes of poor academic performance, and offered negotiated agreements for future actions – the more it outperformed interventions that were impersonal, prescriptive, and nonnegotiable. However, the long term implications of the intrusive interventions had not been determined. This study looked at whether the at-risk students’ academic performance would continue to increase over 3 years and whether the increase would be associated with the level of intrusiveness of the intervention.
The findings supported the expected outcome that the most intrusive form of intervention would result a higher cumulative gpa over time than interventions that were less intrusive. Longitudinal findings also suggested that persistence continues to be higher for students engaged in more intrusive interventions. The study suggests that intrusion is an effective mechanism for improving at-risk student performance.
Reference: Austin , M., Cherney, E., Crowner, J., & Hill, A. (1997). The forum: Intrusive group advising for the probationary student. NACADA Journal , 17 (2), 45-47.
“The Forum” is a group advising effort initiated to provide a more intrusive advising format for freshmen and sophomores who were on probation and reluctant to meet with their advisors. The Forum helped probationary students better understand the skills needed to maintain academic excellence. The results of the group activity suggest that it has been a significant retention tool.
Students who struggle academically often give little thought to self-evaluation. These students often report to academic advisors that “all is going well” with their courses and are surprised to learn that all has truly not gone well. Advisors at Michigan State were interested in enhancing their probationary student services to have a greater impact on student performance. They noticed three issues: Probationary students did not voluntarily meet with advisors; advisors did not have time to meet individually with probationary students; and advising appointments did not focus enough on goals to help students improve their learning strategies.
“The Forum” was developed to encourage students to look at their individual goals and evaluate their success. Letters were sent to probationary students, offering the opportunity to attend a forum or meet with an advisor individually. Students were told that if they did neither, an academic hold would be placed on their record. The Forum sessions were designed to provide information about becoming effective learners, explain advising services available, and serve as a method for advisors to collect information about probationary students for use in future contacts and progress checks. Students were divided into groups to discuss common academic problems and were then asked to set long- and short-term goals to address their perceived academic problems.
Advisors tracked the students’ academic performance at the end of the semester. Students who attended The Forum and also met with an advisor increased their GPA 0.578 points. Students who only attended The Forum had an increase of 0.47, students who only met with an advisor had an increase of 0.495, and students who pursued neither option had an increase of 0.34. These results suggest that intrusive advising strategies are well worth the extra time and effort required and have a noticeable impact on probationary student performance.
Reference: Earl, W. R. (1988). Intrusive advising of freshmen in academic difficulty. NACADA Journal , 8 (2), 27-33.
Intrusive interventions with second semester freshmen on probation is a concept of deliberate intervention in order to enhance student motivation to utilize structured assistance modes. The model is consistent with current research on retention. A three-point theoretical model of intrusive advising is presented and an example of a successful framework used at Old Dominion University is described.
Research shows that more than one-third of all entering freshmen will not continue to the sophomore year. Many institutions provide specialized advising for entering freshmen, taking into consideration their special academic and personal adjustment issues. Yet, some institutions continue to lose large numbers of freshmen because they do not utilize advisor’s skills in identifying and assisting students who experience academic difficulties that result in their dropping out.
Intrusive advising is defined by the author as deliberate structured student intervention at the first indication of academic difficulty in order to motivate a student to seek help. The theoretical basis of intrusive advising is based on three advising principles found in the literature: 1) Academic and social integration are the keys to freshman persistence in college, 2) Deficiencies in this necessary integration are treatable - students can be taught orientation skills through intrusive advising, and 3) Motivation is not the cause but the result of intrusive intervention activities. Students should be intrusively identified and placed in a curriculum that capitalizes on motivation to succeed through self-evaluation, learned study skills, and learned involvement in campus life.
These three theoretical principles of intrusive advising were tested at Old Dominion University . An intrusive advising program was instituted for freshmen on probation after their first semester. The program contained 7 components: 1) Students were required to respond to an intrusive letter by either a phone call to a special “hot line” or in office personal advising prior to the end of the first week of classes for the next semester, 2) Students met with an advisor for an initial exploratory session, 3) Students completed a questionnaire to identify factors contributing most their probationary status, 4) Students discussed the questionnaire responses with the advisor, 5) Students contracted specific courses of action, 6) Students made a follow up appointment with the advisor, and 7) The intrusive contact was concluded with an advising appointment in which the advisor and student planned classes for the next semester and discussed current grades.
A three semester evaluation of grades and retention showed a statistically significant grade change and retention for students in the intrusive program when compared to a control group of probationary freshmen.
Reference: Fish, L. S., Blumberg, P., & Ledet, A. O. (1989). Students on academic probation: A family systems analysis. Journal of College Student Development, 30, 373-374.
College and university personnel have been trying for half a century to determine the nature of students who are on academic probation. Few investigators, however, have asked questions about family characteristics of these students. The lack of focus on the relationship between probationary students and family characteristics in the literature may deter academic advisors and counselors from addressing these issues in discussion with students, assuming that students are reasonably disengaged from their families to the extent that they are no longer influenced by nor influential in family matters. The present authors hypothesize, however, that students on academic probation may be even more connected to their families of origin than are their academically successful cohorts.
The study the authors conducted (polling 75 total students, 22 of whom were on probation) showed that (for the most part) students on probation rated their families more positively than did those students not on probation. I initially found surprising that these probationary students praised their family’s communication skills and saw themselves as more likely to be allowed to speak for themselves in a family discussion. However, in retrospect, I can imagine that those who didn’t feel such freedom might perceive greater parental emphasis on perfection and academic success than those who are given the latitude to be who they are, which could account for the differences in scholastic performance. The authors conclude that probationary students, while perhaps not more connected to their families than their non-probationary counterparts, have a harder time leaving home because they perceive their families so positively, and suggest that advisors bear this in mind when meeting with such students. Most advisors I know are aware of student’s transition problems without having read about this study. Moreover, as the sample pool was rather small and the study took place a decade and a half ago, I would not suggest that all advisors re-evaluate their assessment practices and advising strategies in light of the results. However, it might be interesting to repeat the study every 5 years with a larger pool of students and maybe conduct the study in both private and public university settings (and even 2- and 4-year schools) to ascertain what, if any, trends exist and if those trends are dependent on that current (sociological) time period or are more particular to the type of institution where the study was conducted.
Reference: Foreman, J., Wilkie, C., & Keilen, K. (1990). Fostering the success of students who are experiencing academic probation at a small liberal arts college. Journal of College Student Development , 31 , 371-372.
A unique effort to assist students who are experiencing academic difficulties was instituted during the 1984-1985 academic year at a small liberal arts college with approximately 1,000 students. The goals of this program, called SAGE (Study Acceleration: Gaining Excellence), are to facilitate an improvements in students’ grad point averages (GPAs) and to assist them with achieving good academic standing by the end of their semester of participation.
The SAGE program includes students from all academic levels, freshmen through seniors, who fail to meet the college’s sliding criteria for good academic standing. Participation in this prescriptive program is mandatory for all students, and the program is supported totally by student fees. Approximately 330 students have participated during the past 3 years.
For this study, the authors used four methods to assess the effectiveness of their program: pre- and post-Quality Point Average (QPA) gains, change in probation status, pre- and post-difference on the Survey of Study Habits Attitudes (SSHA; Brown & Holtzman, 1967), and student perceptions of effectiveness as indicated through written evaluations. Unsurprisingly, the data they analyzed after a 3-year period showed that there had been a statistically significant improvement in the mean QPAs.
Of note, though, was that in spite of the required study sessions and the demonstrated benefit of said sessions (as part of the overall program), the students’ general attitude towards study habits did not improve significantly. According to the authors, this would indicate that it is easier to regulate habits than to effect attitude change. I am sure the authors were thoughtful regarding their assessment materials; however, I would be interested in reading the questions they asked to ascertain the overall attitude in the first place. Few students I know enjoy regimental time management and most regret that they must establish specific times for academics at the perceived expense of extra-curricular activities. As a result, their attitude about such study habits would not be terribly positive. This is not to say though, that SAGE students would dispute the value of such rigorous and set habits – I imagine that most would not.
Reference: Garing, M. T. (1992). Intrusive academic advising. New Directions for Community Colleges , 21 (2), 97-104.
Argues for intrusive, interventionist academic advising techniques to build personalized student-advisor relationships. Describes advisor role during admissions, assessment, registration, and orientation and intrusive techniques to be employed during four critical segments of the enrollment-to-graduation period, including note sending, reviewing midterm grades, and calling students.
Intrusive advising should be perceived and delivered as intrusive to serve as a catalyst for building personalized relationships between adviser and student. There are critical times when advisors and students should utilize intrusive advising strategies throughout the student’s educational career. Inquiry to enrollment, assessment and registration are identified as initial points for the adviser to be involved. While many colleges and universities rely on admissions, assessment and registration personnel during the inquiry, assessment and registration phases, advisers can be instrumental at these times as well. Advisers should be involved in all aspects of the development of materials that influence a student’s decision to attend a particular school. It is also imperative that advisers be involved in the assessment process including receiving the scores, understanding the implications of assessment results, communicating college policy, and sensitively exploring students’ concerns related to the assessment results.
Registration itself is considered an administrative function according to Garing, yet advisers can utilize the process to establish a relationship for all future interactions with the student. It is at the initial registration phase that the adviser should be discussing the student’s goals, reviewing assessment results, the importance of building skills, offering an outline of programs, semester by semester courses and establishing student/adviser expectations. Orientation is generally part of the initial phase and if done in groups should include advisers who can set the stage for expectations and future relationships with students.
Reference: Garnett, D. T. (1990). Retention strategies for high-risk students at a four-year university. NACADA Journal , 10 (1), 22-25.
Instructor retention strategies were implemented in an attempt to better the chances for success of high-risk students at Henderson State University . The author describes the origin, development, and results of Students in Retention, a program for probationary and first-time suspended students.
Henderson State University developed a campus-wide program, Students in Retention (SIR) to assist students who were on probation, were suspended, or were admitted on academic conditions for low test scores. It was created after contemplating the reasons that students struggle academically (e.g., the fact that students often develop a false sense of security in high school, fail to realize that college is not simply “grade 13,” and lack the structure and discipline needed to be successful students). The SIR program was developed to help students acquire structure and make a commitment to academics by fulfilling several program requirements: visit the counseling center at least twice each semester; have a conference early in the semester with each professor; meet with an academic advisor at least three times each semester; take part in at least two hours of supervised study time each week; and submit a weekly report for ten weeks, detailing the activities that they have completed. These SIR program requirements assist students with setting a routine and challenging them to pursue activities that they normally would not have explored. For example, after becoming accustomed to having discussions with professors through the SIR program, students are more likely to feel comfortable approaching their professors in upcoming semesters.
The SIR program also targeted students who had been admitted to Henderson on academic conditions for low test scores by encouraging them to take a freshman study skills and major decisions class. The students who completed the course had a higher GPA after the first semester, and their retention rate was higher (61% as compared to 50% for the control group in the study).
Within four years of the start of the SIR program at Henderson , the probation rate had dropped from 10.2% to 8.2%. In addition, there was a 21.8% increase in persistence of freshmen to the sophomore class.
Reference: Hall, K. M., & Gahn, S. W. (1994). Predictors of success for academically dismissed students following readmission. NACADA Journal , 14 (1), 8-12.
Students who had been readmitted to a Midwestern university after academic dismissal were studied to discover whether any predictors of subsequent academic success could be identified. Logistic regression was employed to analyze six predictor variables: (a) cumulative grade point average at time of dismissal, (b) grade point average at another school during dismissal period, (c) composite ACT score, (d) number of semesters between dismissal and readmission, (e) number of credits earned at another school during dismissal period, and (f) level in school at time of dismissal. Only the two grade point averages were found to be significant predictors of success following readmission.
This article is a summary of the findings--studying the six predictors (see above in abstract) for academic success. The student population surveyed was the dismissed students from the College of Liberal Arts and Science from the University of Kansas between the semesters of spring 1988 and fall 1991. Within this period, 520 students were dismissed, 227 applied for re-admission, and 160 were granted re-admission.
As the committee for re-admission considered these re-admission applications, the questions of successful predictors were raised. There was a desire to ensure that the re-admission guidelines were fair to all, and in keeping with the mission and philosophy of the institution. There was an assumption that a re-admitted student would have better academic success if (a) s/he had a higher GPA at dismissal, (b) s/he earned a higher GPA while away, (c) s/he had a higher initial ACT score and (d) s/he spent more time away before returning to the institution.
Of the 160 re-admitted students, 80 students were successful (as defined by either graduation or continued in good standing by earning a semester GPA of 2.0). It was found that the positive impacting factors included the GPA at dismissal and the GPA earned while away (in both cases, the higher the GPA, the more likely the success). The ACT score as well as the time away did not impact the students’ success.
One factor that was not considered was the level (first year, sophomore, junior, senior) of the student at the time of dismissal. It was remarked that the students who were in the upper class levels would perhaps have more invested in their education and thus have a higher motivation to success.
The university enacted new policies because of these findings. These include (a) a higher minimum GPA to avoid dismissal (so, those students who were dismissed, left the university with a higher GPA than previously, and these dismissed students’ GPAs are closer to those needed to maintain good standing at the university), (b) a re-admit interview, (c) more deliberate advising and (d) a higher minimum GPA required for the coursework done away from the institution.
A Response to this article was posted in the NACADA Journal 15 (1), 1995 (page 51) by J. Richard Arndt. He added the observation that another predictor to a re-admitted student’s success would be the student’s commitment to any contractual obligations (for example, scheduled advising meetings, work with a Learning Center ).
Reference: Heisserer, D. L., & Parrette, P. (2002). Advising at-risk students in college and university settings. College Student Journal, 36 (1), 69-83.
The importance of intrusive advising at-risk college and university students (i.e., students who: are ethnic minorities, are academically disadvantaged, have disabilities, are of low socioeconomic status, and are probationary students) has been repeatedly emphasized in the professional literature. Intrusive advising strategies are typically used with at-risk students, and are special techniques based on prescriptive, developmental, and integrated advising models. Numerous benefits to using intrusive advising are noted, along with examples of strategies used with five at-risk groups. Recommendations for college and university advisors include the need for a comprehensive plan that addresses intrusive advising, adequate faculty and advisor training, web supports for targeted students, development of comprehensive databases for managing student data, and ongoing research to evaluate intervention effectiveness.
Research literature on student retention and attrition suggests that contact with a significant person within an institution of higher education is a crucial factor in a student's decision to remain in college (Chickering & Gamson, 1987; Glennen, Farren, & Vowell, 1996). In the past few decades, many claims have been made with regard to the important role that quality academic advising programs play in the successful recruitment and retention of students (see e.g., Glennen et al., 1996; Habley, 1986; Habley & Crockett, 1988; Metzner, 1989; Trombley & Holmes, 1981). Higher education professionals who come in direct contact with students and understand the challenges they face are primary candidates for advisor/mentor roles. While faculty, administrators, and student affairs professionals all serve as student advocates and play an integral part in student retention and attrition, advisors are typically in the best positions to assist students in making quality academic decisions.
Of particular importance to academic advisors in college and university settings are students who are deemed to be at-risk (Jones & Watson, 1990; Kobrak, 1992). For purposes of this discussion, the term at-risk students will refer to several groups of individuals: students who are (a) ethnic minorities, (b) academically disadvantaged, (c) disabled, (d) of low socioeconomic status, and (e) probationary students.
There are three primary advising models: prescriptive, developmental, and integrated. Prescriptive advising involves advisors making a “diagnosis” and recommending a course of action to the students. The students accept no responsibility for the decision-making process and instead rely fully on the advisor. While prescriptive advising is often viewed negatively, due to low student involvement, it has been observed that minority students often show a preference for this form of advising. When a prescriptive advisor provides clear guidance, many minority students view the advisor as competent, pay closer attention, and take more responsibility for their actions.
In developmental advising, the advisors and students share responsibility for the decision-making process. The advisors do not simply answer the students’ questions, but rather help to point the student in the direction of helpful resources. This advising style tends to promote increased problem-solving abilities in students, but is often more difficult to do effectively because of time constraints, advisor case loads, shortcomings in advisor training, etc.
In most literature, it is recommended that a blended, or integrated, approach be utilized, instead of a purely prescriptive or developmental model. This integrated approach draws upon several key advising skills: communication, questioning, and referral skills.
Additional literature suggests that increased emphasis should be placed on even more intrusive advising techniques when working with probationary students. These techniques could include setting strategic goals, promoting interactive learning, and helping students develop greater self-awareness. These tactics traditionally result in students feeling a greater connection to the college, which in turn translates into higher overall retention rates.
Several recommendations are made to assist institutions with developing more effective intrusive advising programs for at-risk students: have students sign an academic plan/contract at the beginning and middle of each semester, detailing the students responsibilities; provide additional advisor and faculty training to improve their ability to work successfully with this population of students; develop a website specifically for at-risk students; compile information from incoming at-risk students to assist with strategic long-range program planning; conduct longitudinal research on the effect of retention strategies.
Reference: Kelley, K. N. (1996). Causes, reactions, and consequences of academic probation: A theoretical model. NACADA Journal , 16 (1), 28-33.
This paper presents a three-stage model of academic probation that addresses cognitive, affective (emotional), behavioral, and environmental factors. The first stage examines the precursors to probation – factors that inhibit student performance. The second stage focuses on student reactions to being placed on probation. The various strategies students use to cope with probation are then used to predict the third stage or long-term consequences of probation. The key assumption behind this model is that student causal ascriptions for probation are an important predictor of future performance and self-concept. Intervention strategies are proposed that focus on attributional retraining in addition to traditional programs. Finally, it is hoped that this model will promote heuristic research concerning at-risk students as well as those on academic probation.
Colleges place students on academic probation for a variety of possible reasons. For example, probation can serve as a punishment to encourage satisfactory student performance, as a method to inform students of the gravity of their academic situation, and a way to identify students who may be at risk for leaving the institution so that steps can be taken to help them improve their performance.
There are three phases of academic probation: precursors, immediate reactions, and long-term consequences. Precursors consist of individual and environmental factors that lead to probation, some of which are controllable (e.g., effort, values, motivation) and others are uncontrollable (e.g., family, social environment, basic ability, personality, learning disability). Immediate reactions are the students’ responses to being put on probation. In most instances, students identify uncontrollable reasons as the factors that led to their probationary status. This is often done to protect their image and self-esteem. Unfortunately, by attributing their academic struggles to uncontrollable attributions, students often experience long-term consequences such as reduced self-esteem and increased depression. These students are also much less likely to engage in behaviors that will improve their performance.
Intervention strategies should include an assessment of the precursors to probation, to help students avoid probation in the first place. For example, if students are trained about their individual learning style, they may be able to prepare more effectively for future classes. Additional intervention strategies can be employed after students are notified of their probationary status. Traditional approaches include requiring students to attend study skills presentations, time management workshops, or counseling sessions. However, these methods are not likely to result in high rates of success because students who attribute their academic difficulties to uncontrollable attributions are not likely to be motivated to attend workshops or apply the skills taught at those workshops. Instead, advisors should focus on the attributions first. In one example, probationary students were asked to watch a video that modeled controllable attributions for failure (e.g., “it was my fault because I did not study enough”). Those students earned higher grades in their course than students who did not receive the attributional training. Some students may view mandatory tutoring sessions or study skills workshops as additional external forces and continue to avoid taking control of their academic lives. Advisors should, instead, focus on helping students to accept responsibility for their academic situation by teaching them to make internal-controllable attributions. In this way, they may be more likely to improve their study habits or seek additional help.
Reference: Kirk-Kuwaye, M., & Nishida, D. (2001). Effect of low and high advisor involvement on the academic performances of probation students . NACADA Journal , 21 (1&2), 40-45.
While advisors can find support in theory and practice for assisting students who are performing poorly in academics, the optimal involvement level for improving academic performance is undetermined. We conducted three experimental trials to compare low and high involvement levels of advisors assisting probation students. The involvement levels for the low involvement groups were identical, while involvement varied among those groups receiving the high involvement treatment. We found a significant difference in academic performance only between the group that experienced the greatest advisor involvement and the simultaneously assessed low involvement group. The results suggest that full institutional intervention is needed to effectively help probation students.
Interventions for students in academic difficulty vary by institutional beliefs about student cognitive strategies. Those institutions who believe students have the ability to monitor and control their academic behaviors and seek out assistance provide passive, low involvement interventions for students in academic difficulty. Other institutions who believe that for many students, poor academic performance is a result of inadequate cognitive and behavioral strategies may provide high involvement interventions. High involvement models may include required meetings with advisors, contractual agreements for academic improvement, training in time management and study skills, and other proactive intervention methods.
In this study, the low involvement group received a notification letter of their poor academic performance and encouragement in the letter to visit an academic advisor or use campus resources. High involvement groups received varying combinations of proactive interventions, including required meetings with designated academic advisors, agreements to use certain campus resources, study materials and Web support, written assignments on various study strategies, and receiving reminder phone calls for their advising meetings.
There were statistically significant improvements in suspension-dismiss rates and semester GPAs for the high involvement group over the low involvement group. In addition, it was found that the higher the institutional involvement, the more effective the program was. Implications are that while students may recognize the value of learning new strategies, following through on changes may be difficulty unless they are actively engaged. Letters encouraging students to visit advisors and seek assistance are not sufficient to improve their academic performance.
Reference: Lipsky, S. A., & Ender, S. C. (1990). Impact of a study skills course on probationary students’ academic performance. Journal of the Freshman Year Experience , 2 (1), 7-15.
Abstract: The impact of a one-credit study skills course on the academic performance and retention of second-semester freshman probationary students at a state-supported university was examined. At the conclusion of the semester in which the interventions occurred, statistically significant differences were found in the dependent variables of grade point averages, academic hours attempted, and academic hours earned. Differences which favored the treatment groups were also apparent one and two years later. Retention data favored the treatment group.
This study examined the impact of a study skills course on second semester probationary students. Course topics included academic goal setting, time management, study environment, listening and notetaking, textbook reading, test preparation and anxiety, and memory and concentration. The course also emphasized behaviors and attitudes associated with academic success. There were fourteen hours of instruction. The course was offered during 2 consecutive spring semesters, and participation was voluntary. The control group consisted of probationary students who were eligible for the course but chose not to take it.
At the end of each spring semester, the students who took the class earned significantly higher gpas and academic hours than the control groups. Two years after the first spring class, the class students had significantly higher gpa than the control group. There was no statistical significance in hours attempted or hours earned. One year after the second spring class, the students from that class had somewhat higher gpa, more hours attempted, and more hours earned than the control group, but the differences were not statistically significant. Two year retention rates for the first spring class were higher than for the control group, but not statistically significant. One year retention rates for the 2 nd spring class were significantly higher than the control group.
Reference: Mann, J. R., Hunt, M. D., & Alford, J. G. (2004). Monitored probation: A program that works. Journal of College Student Retention , 5 (3), 245-254.
Universities have recognized student attrition as a problem for some years, and measures to improve this critical issue are being sought. One such effort used at Lamar University is the Monitored Probation (MP) program. The MP program is a comprehensive early intervention academic retention program intended to assist with the academic success of students who have been placed on academic probation or suspension. This article describes this multi-component program and includes evaluative data on two groups of freshmen on academic probation, a group of probationary General Studies students on monitored probation and a group of non-General Studies probationary students as the control group. At the conclusion of the year in which the interventions occurred, statistically significant differences were found in grade point averages between the two groups and in satisfaction with their university experiences.
In 1997, The Center for General Studies was established to provide support for students seeking the Bachelor of General Studies degree, students who had not declared a major, and students who were experiencing academic difficulty. During the fall semester of 1998, the Center for General Studies at Lamar University identified 30% of its General Studies majors with gpa’s less than 2.0. Of these, 40% were freshmen. Because of these alarming rates, it instituted a Monitored Probation (MP) program, designed to increase retention, improve gpa’s, and enhance students’ satisfaction with their university experiences. This study tracked two groups of freshmen: 1) a group of General Studies majors on academic probation who were placed in the MP program, and 2) a control group of non-General Studies majors who were also on academic probation but were not placed in the MP program.
General Studies students with less than a 2.0 gpa were required to participate in the MP program as a condition of continued enrollment. Participation included utilization of support services such as academic counseling, tutoring, study skills courses, workshops, and supplemental instruction. The program enlists support and input from faculty to monitor student progress and needs. Needed services are obtained through a referral and follow-up process, thus promoting collaboration between faculty, staff, and administrators to help students achieve and maintain satisfactory academic progress. When a student’s gpa falls below 2.0 placement in the MP program can occur in one of three ways: 1) the student is a General Studies major and is notified of his/her academic status, 2) the student is referred to General Studies when they apply for readmission to the university after an enrollment lapse of 12 months or more, or 3) the student is suspended from his/her major department and referred to General Studies by that departments.
The first step in the MP program was a requirement to meet for academic counseling with the Retention Coordinator. During this meeting, the Coordinator assessed the student’s academic needs, explained the goal and requirements of the program, and developed an individualized education plan. Information on academic support services was provided. Students were placed into one of three intervention levels, based on their gpa:
Low intervention – gpa between 1.8 and 1.999
Medium intervention – gpa between 1.5 – 1.799
High intervention – gpa between 0.0 and 1.499
Low intervention students were required to attend one individual session in study skills or tije management. Medium intervention students were required to attend three Academic Enhancement workshops. These were one hour workshops on study methods, note-taking, test anxiety reduction, time management, goal setting, memory tricks, effective textbook reading skills, critical thinking, and stress management. High intervention students were required to enroll in “Learning and Study Skills”, a two credit hour, semester learning styles based course which combined learning theory research with practical intervention to improve academic performance. Additional intervention activities were prescribed for each student based on individual need, such as tutoring and career or personal counseling. Follow up letters of encouragement and/or personal phone calls to students were made at least twice per semester. Academic progress reports were sent to instructors, requesting information concerning the students’ current academic progress, class attendance, and requests for instructors’ suggestions.
The results of the study showed that the MP program students began the study with slightly lower mean cumulative gpa than the control group but ended the first year of the study with a higher mean gpa. Students in all three levels of the MP program had higher mean gpa increases than the control group. There was also a statistically significant difference in the MP students who received the highest level intervention compared to those in the control group and those who received low and medium intervention. MP program students also reported more satisfaction with their role within the university and the quality of advisement received than students in the control group.
Reference: Meadows, D. C., & Tharp, T. J. (1996). Suspended students: An analysis of suspension length and returning semester GPA. NACADA Journal , 16 (1), 35-37.
The purpose of the study is to determine if length of suspension is related to academic success upon a student’s return to college. This research stems from opposing views of members of a university academic appeals committee concerned about whether a suspended student should serve a suspension term of one semester, one year, or be granted immediate reentry. Academic records of 765 students who were suspended between the fall 1991 and the summer 1993 semesters and then were allowed to reenter the university within one year were examined. The results revealed that suspension length is unrelated to subsequent academic success.
This article addresses an assumption that is common: the more time a student spends “away” from the academic institution of dismissal, the better success the student will have upon a return to the institution. Students would return with more motivation and more maturity to succeed. The text opens with a very brief review of the research to date, which shows mixed results: Students either return to their institutions highly motivated to succeed, or the time away causes students to loose their motivation to return and finish their academic program.
Middle Tennessee University had three reasons to look into this issue. They wanted to research to impact their understanding of the retention of students, there was an aspiration to develop policies that would better predict academic success of students and the effective use of university resources, and there was a desire to understand the needs of the re-admit students (leading to the delivery of appropriate resources).
The authors realize that other variables play into the academic success of students, such as GPA, the students’ class standing, and so forth. However, this study only focused on the variable of length of time away.
When the research was done, it was found that there was not any correlation between time away (one semester or two emesters) and academic success upon return. The authors acknowledge that identifying the positive factors that impact a dismissed student’s success would be an effective means of assessing student readiness for a successful re-entry.
Reference: Mealey, D. L. (1990). Understanding the motivation problems of at-risk college students. Journal of Reading , 33 (8), 598-601.
Examines the nature of motivation to understand how achievement motivation is related to autonomous, self-regulated learning. Discusses the role of motivation in strategic learning, with applications made to the developmental college reading population.
Developmental college reading students often lack the skills necessary for educational success. The skills students lack are not always related to ability, but to self-esteem and taking responsibility for their learning. The authors recommend that developmental college reading programs incorporate metacognitive strategies into the curriculum. The focus should be based on content, include strategic learning that makes the learning relevant, practical, and personally significant. The article indicates that weekly journals are just one strategy that can be utilized to increase students’ metacognitive awareness and provide them the opportunity to take control of their learning. The journal should include self-reflection and practical steps the student used in approaching class assignments and tests. Journaling throughout the semester allows students to see what works for them and builds self-esteem from their success.
Understanding that student success is related to effort more than ability can reduce anxiety levels and increase self-efficacy in developmental students. Students who are at-risk have often had negative learning experiences and require support as they gain a sense of control for their learning.
Reference: Molina, A., & Abelman, R. (2000). Style over substance in interventions for at-risk students: The impact of intrusiveness. NACADA Journal, 20 (2), 5-15.
Academic advisors charged with developing and implementing student success strategies should ask: To what extent is the process of intervention, rather than the nature of any specific intervention, responsible for an influx in at-risk student performance and persistence? Students in varying degrees of academic probation were randomly assigned to one of three intervention strategies that incorporated controlled content but divergent levels of intrusiveness. The most intrusive intervention resulted in higher cumulative grade-point averages and higher retention rates for all students. Students with the highest risk of academic dismissal were the most responsive to the most intrusive intervention.
Many studies have shown that advising intervention programs help with the academic performance and retention of academically at-risk students. This study’s focus was to look at whether the process of intervention itself, rather than the content of the intervention, is responsible for the change in academic performance and retention. Specifically, the study sought to determine whether the level of intrusiveness of the intervention led to divergent results in at-risk students’ academic performance and retention when the content of the intervention was held constant.
The non-intrusive control group merely received a letter informing them of their probationary status, the minimum gpa needed next term, identified various student service resources at the university, and recommended actions that needed to be taken. The intrusive interventions all included personal contact, generating student responsibility for problem solving and decision making, assisting students in identifying resolvable causes of poor academic performance, and negotiating agreements for future actions. The moderate intrusive group received a status letter, followed in 3 days by a phone call reviewing the status. Student services were identified that were most relevant to the students’ problems, and a plan of action was developed. Students were also asked questions intended to identify internal versus external factors impacting their academic performance. The full intrusive group received the status letter, which included a requirement that they meet with the Coordinator of Academic Advising. The letter was followed by a phone call to schedule the appointment. The appointment included a review of the letter, student services identification, development of a plan of action, including appointments with counselors and advisors as needed, and the plan of action was formalized into a written contract. Students were also asked questions intended to identify internal versus external factors impacting their academic performance.
The findings supported the hypothesis that the most intrusive intervention would result in higher gpa and retention. Also supported was the hypothesis that the more intrusive the intervention, the more likely the students identified the contributors to their academic probation as being controllable and manageable. The findings strongly supported the hypothesis that students at the highest degree of academic risk are more responsive to the more intrusive interventions.
Reference: Patrick, J., Furlow, J. W., & Donovan, S. (1988), Using a comprehensive academic intervention program in the retention of high-risk students, NACADA Journal, 8 (1), 29-34.
The use of a comprehensive academic advising program in conjunction with a sustained academic orientation program through the freshman year has resulted in a 13/27 percent increase in the retention rate of high-risk students at a regional campus of a large public research university. In this article, the authors describe the components of CORE, the comprehensive advising/orientation program, and the success they’ve had with high-risk students in the program.
This article describes the CORE program at the DuBois campus of Penn State University . In 1984-85, CORE was formed, comprising of the director of Academic Affairs, two professional counselors and six faculty advisors. Their goal was to devise a pro-active program to meet the needs of their under-prepared incoming students. CORE’s formulation was timely because of growing trends of under-prepared students. The trends and research (to date) on this student population is summarized at the beginning of the article.
The CORE program is very comprehensive. The advisors in the program received deliberate training on campus resources, combined with training on advising skills and career counseling techniques. Students pro-actively identified for the CORE program were ones who either had insufficient math/English placement exam scores, demonstrated career indecisiveness or inappropriateness (meaning, their chosen major did not match up with their academic aptitudes), had significant academic or personal concerns, or demonstrated uncertainty about their educational plans. Students were also selected for the CORE program based on their SAT scores, high school GPA, and predicted collegiate GPA (for science majors as well as non science majors).
For the fall 1985 semester, there were 88 CORE students, compared to a group of 115 non CORE students. CORE students had these requirements: bi-weekly meetings with their advisor (which included academic monitoring and scheduling, as well as career guidance topics), enrollment in appropriate basic skill course(s), and enrollment in a freshman experience course.
The study compared the cumulative GPA of the CORE and non CORE students after the second semester of study, and the retention of these students at the ends of semesters two and four. The GPA comparison showed that CORE students were maintaining cumulative GPAs that were comparable to the non CORE students (and in fact, the CORE Science-Oriented majors’ GPA were higher than their non CORE colleagues). A marked benefit was shown in the comparison of retention after the second and fourth semesters. The second semester retention figures were 85.22% CORE vs. 75.70% non CORE. At the end of the fourth semester, 82.71% of the CORE students were retained, compared to 69.44% of the non CORE students.
Beyond the evident benefits to the CORE students, the authors reported that the CORE program gave more visibility of campus resources to the overall faculty advisors (even those not in the CORE program).
Reference: Schultz, R. A., Dickman, M. M., Campbell, N. J., & Snow, B. M. (1992). Assessing a short-term intervention to facilitate academic success. NASPA Journal, 30 (1), 43-50.
The authors examine the effectiveness of an academic course taught as a condition for the reinstatement of suspended students.
Students participating in the study had been suspended from their academic college within a large southwestern university and could not continue at the university without participating in an Academic Assessment Program. The goal of the program was to assist students in performing at an academically acceptable level for one to two semesters so they may be reinstated. Students entered into a contractual agreement to do the following: 1) enroll in and satisfactorily complete an academic skills course, 2) maintain a full-time course load, 3) maintain a 2.0 average for each semester enrolled, 4) meet with assigned advisors and implement any advisor recommendations, 5) seek and advisor’s advice before making any enrollment changes, and 6) submit a midterm progress report prior to each enrollment.
The required academic skills course assessed in this study was a non credit course that met twice a week for one semester. The first meeting each week was a large group lecture and the second meeting was a small group discussion. Its content included time management, writing skills, study skills, career decision-making, academic planning, communication skills, use of campus resources, racism, sexual attitudes, and social responsibility.
Two groups of students were evaluated: 1) those who participated in the class during Fall 1988. These students were chosen based on recommendation of advising staff after evaluation of student records and a personal interview, 2) those who participated in the class during Fall 1989. These students were chosen solely on the basis of a gpa/credit hours attempted scale. This scale increased the minimum standards for acceptance into the class.
While 53.5% of the students in the class succeeded, analysis indicated no significant difference or improvement in students’semester or cumulative gpas after completion of the class for either group. It was found that no significant difference in gpas would have existed if the 1988 group had been selected according the 1989 group criteria. Entering gpa was also found not to be a significant factor in the gpa after the class. This finding is not consistent with previous research suggesting higher entrance gpa as a predictor or academic success. Results of the study question the value of increasing minimum standards for entering an academic assessment intervention such as a short-term academic skills course. The authors suggest that other variables not addressed in the class, such as environmental factors, emotional trauma, and developmental issues may affect student performance, and these factors should be considered in selecting students for remedial programs. It was also suggested that identifying and selecting students for assistance should occur at an earlier point in their academic career.
Reference: Trombley, C. M. (2001). Evaluating students on probation and determining intervention strategies: A comparison of probation and good standing students. Journal of College Student Retention, 2 (3), 239-251.
During the 1998 academic year, this study surveyed probation and good standing students at Los Angeles Southwest College and analyzed their responses with respect to a variety of different variables. Differences between the two groups were found in the number of hours worked, high school gpa, and family characteristics. A greater number of probation students reported that they worked compared to students in good standing. A greater number of students on probation also work full-time compared to students in good academic standing. Students on probation reported a lower high school gpa than students in good standing at Los Angeles Southwest College, which is consistent with other research indicating that high school grade point average (GPA) is a predictor of college success. This study also found that a greater number of probation students had children present in their household compared to the students in good standing.
This study focused on students at a community college in Los Angeles . The ethnicity of the students at the school was: 78% Black, 20% Hispanic, 1% Asian, and 1% White. Students on probation after the Spring 1998 semester were sent a letter informing them of their probation status and referred to probation group counseling sessions. At the sessions, students were instructed on how to calculate their gpa, how to increase their gpa, and how to improve their study habits. They were given an Academic Repair Kit brochure and asked to complete a questionnaire that rated their motivation, interest, concentration, determination, class difficulty, and instructor difficulty. Other demographic items were included in the questionnaire.
Comparison of probationary and good standing students showed that high school gpa was significantly lower for probationary students, a greater number of probationary students worked, a greater number of probationary students worked full-time, and a greater number of probationary students had children living with them. Reasons for being on probation were: 42% personal problems, 21% other, 17% not enough time, 11% classes too difficult, 7% not motivated, 2% no interest. No difference occurred between probationary and good standing students on the variables of motivation, interest, concentration, determination, class difficulty, and instructor difficulty.