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«This study examined whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point average, NCAA progress-towards-degree, and freshman to sophomore ...»

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AMUNDSEN, SCOTT A., Ph.D. The Effect that First-Year Experience Courses Have on

Student-Athletes’ Academic Success When Only Student-Athletes are Enrolled Versus

When Student-Athletes are Enrolled with Non-Athletes. (2008)

Directed by Dr. Bert Goldman. 87 pp.

This study examined whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point

average, NCAA progress-towards-degree, and freshman to sophomore retention rates, of

student athletes was influenced by participating in a first-year experience course populated exclusively by student-athletes and taught by athletic-academic personnel compared to student-athletes participating in an integrated first- year experience course populated by the general student body and taught by a faculty member not associated with the athletic-academic support staff at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU). The results of the study showed that no significant differences existed between the groups regarding academic performance and NCAA progress-towards degree. There was also very little difference in freshman to sophomore retention rates between the two groups with the exception of white males participating in low-profile sports. The quantitative data for this study were collected from EKU’s student information system.

THE EFFECT THAT FIRST-YEAR EXPERIENCE COURSES HAVE ON STUDENTATHLETES’ ACADEMIC SUCCESS WHEN ONLY STUDENT-ATHLETES

ARE ENROLLED VERSUS WHEN STUDENT-ATHLETES ARE

ENROLLED WITH NON-ATHLETES

by Scott A. Amundsen A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Philosophy Greensboro Approved by Committee Chair

APPROVAL PAGE

This dissertation has been approved by the following committee of the Faculty of The Graduate School at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Committee Chair Committee Members Date of Acceptance by Committee Date of Final Oral Examination ii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Thank you to Dr. Bert Goldman for sticking with me and pushing me to finish this project. I appreciate all of your support and encouragement. I would also like to thank my other committee members Drs. Ackerman, Coble, and Covington. Thank you for mentoring me through this process.

Thanks to my wife Michelle and my son Zane for their sacrifice and faith in me. I would also like to thank my classmates Brett Carter and Bryant Hutson for their support and friendship.

–  –  –

LIST OF TABLES

LIST OF FIGURES

CHAPTER

I. INTRODUCTION

Statement of the Problem

Research Questions

Significance of the Study

Definition of Key Terms

Limitations

Organization of the Study

II. LITERATURE REVIEW

–  –  –

III. METHODOLOGY

Research Design

Research Questions

Student Learning Objectives (SLO) of the GSO 100 Course

Participants

Data Management

Data Analysis

Ethical Issues

IV. FINDINGS AND RESULTS

–  –  –

V. CONCLUSIONS, SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY, LIMITATIONS,

AND FUTURE RESEARCH

Summary and Discussion of the Results

Conclusions

Limitations

Future Research

Final Concluding Comments

REFERENCES

APPENDIX. COURSE SYLLABUS

–  –  –

Table 1 High School GPA: A Two-sample t-test

2 ACT Scores: A Two-sample t-test

3 NCAA Progress- Toward-Degree

4 Demographic Characteristics by Gender

5 Demographic Characteristics by Ethnicity

6 Demographic Characteristics by Sport

7 Comparison of Mean First Semester and Cumulative First Academic Year Mean GPAs

8 First Semester GPA: One-way ANOVA: Group A, Group B

9 Cumulative First Academic Year GPA: One-way ANOVA: Group A, Group B

10 Retention Percentage by Group

11 Chi-Square Test: Retention Group A, Group B

12 Between-Subjects Factors

13 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for First Semester GPA

14 Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for Cumulative GPA after the First Academic Year

15 Retention Table by Gender and Ethnicity

16 Retention Rates by Sport Profile, Gender, and Ethnicity

–  –  –

Figure 1 Tinto’s Student Integration Model

2. Bean’s Student Attrition Model

–  –  –

Athletic departments are often viewed as being the front porch of colleges and universities (Kennedy, 2007). Success on the field of play can substantially increase national exposure and generate increased interest among prospective students (Goff, 2000). While universities are under increased pressure to maintain competitive athletic programs (Thelin, 1994), new legislation (NCAA, 2007a) is increasing the focus on student-athlete retention and graduation rates (Shulman & Bowen, 2001).

In 2006-07, more than 360,000 college students participated in 23 sports at 1,000 NCAA member institutions (Jones & Levine, 2006). Student-athletes are a special population due to their atypical role on campus (Ferrante, Etzel, & Lantz, 1996). Unlike most traditional students, student-athletes must manage a hectic schedule, exhausting physical workouts, a high-profile existence, and public scrutiny (Parham, 1993).





Although they are often academically under-prepared in relation to their peers (Shulman & Bowen, 2001), student-athletes are required to fulfill the academic expectations of their individual institutions while also adhering to increasingly strict NCAA eligibility standards. Failure to fulfill either set of requirements will jeopardize their eligibility to compete, their financial aid/ scholarship, and ultimately their ability to complete a degree (Carodine, Almond, & Gratto, 2001).

Socially, student-athletes face many unique struggles. The social life of a studentathlete often exists in a vacuum. The nature of athletic teams, camaraderie, and teamwork along with the large amount of time that they spend together often leads athletes to develop strong bonds with teammates, but conversely leads to social isolation from the general student body (Simons, Bosworth, Fujita, & Jensen, 2007). Negative stereotyping of athletes has resulted in widespread bias towards student-athletes on campus (Hamilton & Trolier, 1986; Lorenzen & Lucas, 2004). Studies (Simons et al., 2007; Engstrom & Sedlacek, 1991, 1993; Engstrom, Sedlacek, & McEwen, 1995) have shown that faculty members do not view student-athletes as favorably as individuals from the general student body (Dowling, 2007). Student-athletes are less likely to take advantage of academic resources and campus activities due to their high-profile and additional time constraints (Kennedy, 2007; Simons et al., 2007).

The balance between athletics and academics has been a delicate issue since the beginning of organized collegiate athletics. In the 1890s student-athletes were under tremendous scrutiny. Most teams were employing ‘ringers’, athletes not enrolled at their institution (Crowley, 2006). Harvard President Charles Eliot publicly denounced athletics for levying excessive demands on student-athletes in areas not related to their studies (Lewis, 1970). In 1929 the Carnegie Commission published a comprehensive report on college athletics that cited the two biggest issues as commercialism and the lack of academic integrity of the student-athlete.

Much time has passed, but the issues remain the same. Recent NCAA reforms have focused on similar issues. In 1983 the NCAA passed Proposition 48. Proposition 48 established minimum grade-point average and standardized test (ACT or SAT) score requirements for all incoming student-athletes. The purpose of Proposition 48 was to increase the standard for student-athletes initial academic eligibility through the establishment of a standardized national eligibility clearinghouse. In 1991, the Knight Foundation Commission was formed by Congress to examine the current state of athletics and to make recommendations for the improvement of student-athlete graduation rates.

The commission’s report addressed three key areas: academic integrity, financial integrity, and independent certification (Knight & Knight, 1991, 1992, 1993). The commission also focused on the admission of qualified student-athletes who would “...

undertake the same courses of study offered to other students and graduate in the same proportion” as the general student population (Knight & Knight, 1991, p. 15). The Knight Commission also called for: (a) a strengthening of initial eligibility requirements, (b) a linkage between athletic eligibility and progress towards graduation, and (c) increased accountability for universities with low athletic graduation rates (Knight & Knight, 1991).

The initial recommendations of the Knight Commission have continued to push the NCAA towards new reforms. In 2003, the NCAA strengthened eligibility requirements for student-athletes. The new requirements require student-athletes to complete 40% of their academic requirements after their second year, 60% following their third year, and 80% upon completion of their fourth year (NCAA, 2007a). In 2006 the NCAA instituted new Academic Progress Rate (APR) legislation. APR gives each institution a score, which signifies how well it is doing in moving its student-athletes towards graduation. The NCAA publicly reports APR scores each year and schools not meeting the mandated graduation cut-off score (currently 50%) can be rebuked and might be subject to scholarship restrictions and/or post-season participation restrictions. In summary, APR ties a team’s real time academic performance to the number of available scholarships and post-season competition eligibility.

Vincent Tinto’s (1975, 1986, 1993, 1997) model on student attrition is widely accepted as the leading model in retention theory. Tinto (1993) found that attrition rates were at their highest after the first year. One practical application that evolved from Tinto’s theory is the first-year experience course. These credit-bearing courses became increasingly popular in the early 1980s (Barefoot, 1993). The first-year experience course curriculum typically addresses the academic and social integration piece of Tinto’s model while also addressing the campus resources (Barefoot 1993), wellness issues, and additional academic information (Cone, 1991). Numerous studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of first-year experience courses on retention (Barefoot, 1993; Pascarela, Terenzini, & Wolfe, 1986). A recent study (Toblowsky, 2007) reported that 85% of colleges and universities in the US offer some form of first- year experience course.

Research (Etzel, Barrow, & Pinkney, 1994; Gerdy, 1997; Riffee & Alexander,

1991) suggests that student-athletes should participate in a first-year experience course that addresses career exploration and student development theory. Whether the first-year experience course should be taught in student-athlete specific sections is still the subject of much debate. Some researchers state that if student-athletes long-term academic and social interests are being given full consideration, it is more beneficial for first-year student-athletes to attend a university-administered orientation program that is separate from the athletic department (Gerdy, 1997; Carodine et al., 2001). Gerdy (1997) states, Many well intentioned athletic departments develop orientation programs for student-athletes. However, such programs are not nearly as comprehensive as university-wide programs. More significantly, however, is the fact that when the athletic department administers the orientation program, it sets the unhealthy precedent that it will ‘take care of’ everything for the student-athletes, including matters relating to academics and student- life. (p. 65) Although a separate orientation experience may not benefit student-athletes, some researchers (Curry & Maniar, 2004; Petrie & Denson, 2006; Riffie & Alexander, 1991) still advocate for an orientation course designed exclusively for student-athletes. Several textbooks that specifically address the student-athlete’s first- year experience (Ellis, 2005;

Nathanson & Kimmel, 2007) are currently in press.

–  –  –



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