Effects of academic integration on the persistence and achievement of under-prepared college students

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Higher Education

First Advisor's Name

Janice Sandiford

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Cengiz Alacaci

Third Advisor's Name

Barry Greenberg

Date of Defense



The purpose of this dissertation was to examine the effect of academic integration, defined in terms of instructor/student contact, on the persistence of under-prepared college students and the achievement of those who persist. The overall design of this study compared instructor-initiated contact with conventional contact. The dependent variables were persistence, achievement, motivation and anxiety. Information was collected by administering the College-Level Mathematics Test (CLM), the Perceived Affective Contact Questionnaire (PAC), the expectancy and anxiety components of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), a departmental final examination, and by accessing university records. The sample consisted of 130 college algebra students at a large, public university with a Hispanic majority. The main analyses consisted of a 2x2x2 ANOVA (treatment by ethnicity by gender) to test for differences in achievement, t-tests to compare motivation, anxiety and perceived affective contact scores for the two groups, Chi-square tests to assess differences in persistence, and Pearson Product-Moment Correlation to determine the relationship between pretest scores and achievement variables. Results indicated that neither instructor-initiated contact, gender nor ethnicity is related to persistence, motivation or anxiety. A significant disordinal interaction of treatment and ethnicity was observed, with Hispanic experimental students scoring significantly higher on a test of algebra achievement than Hispanic control students.

Academic integration, defined in terms of instructor/student contact, has a positive influence on the achievement of Hispanic students. This may imply their positive responsiveness to the relational aspect of contact due to traditional cultural values of interdependence, acquiescence to authority and physical closeness. Such interactive feedback is a means by which students with these values are recognized as members of the university academic community, prompting increased academic effort. Training in contact initiation to promote academic integration is implied, by the results of this study, for instructors dealing with first year students, especially instructors at institutions accommodating instructional methods to the needs of diverse groups.



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