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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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One of the unexpected outcomes of the emergence of first-year experience courses and the CHAMPS/Life Skills Program was the development of student-athlete specific first-year experience courses taught by members of the SAAS staff (Albitz, 2002; Bell, 2003; Curry & Maniar, 2003; Denson, 2004; Tebbe & Petrie, 2006). The curriculum of the CHAMPS/ Life Skills program are typically delivered in a workshop format (Gerdy, 1997), but due to concerns relating to poor attendance alternative delivery methods of this information are often considered. Athletic-specific sections of these courses are not questioned by faculty since about 35% of the freshman experience courses are housed in a unit outside of academic affairs (Toblowsky, 2007) and they often perceive this type of course as developmental or remedial (Barefoot, 2000; Cuseo, 1991). No data are available on the number of colleges and universities currently offering student-athlete specific first-year experiences courses. According to Denson (1994), freshman seminars specifically for student-athletes attempt present the material in a format that reflects their experiences as college athletes as well as students. Tebbe and Petrie (2006) describe the content of a similar course as being “... more personally meaningful for the student-athletes which ideally would improve their comprehension and adoption of new strategies to learn” (p. 9).

The fact that leading publishers are currently marketing three student-athlete firstyear experience texts (A Student-Athlete’s Guide to College Success (Petrie & Denson, 2003), Becoming a Master Student-Athlete (Ellis, 2005), and The College Athlete's Guide to Academic Success (Nathanson & Kimmel, 2007)) indicates that many schools are teaching first-year experience courses geared towards student-athletes.

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The purpose of this study was to determine whether the academic success, specifically the grade-point average 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 (Group A) compared to student-athletes 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 (Group B).

–  –  –

A quantitative research design was used in this study. Quantitative data were collected regarding the grade-point average, and first-year retention rates of studentathletes enrolled in two differently populated General Studies Orientation (GSO) 100 first-year experience courses each of which were taught by a different type of instructor.

It is the researcher’s proposition that in order to best comprehend the effect that the composition of the type of GSO 100 courses (Group A or Group B) have on EKU’s student-athletes, the analyses of grade-point average and retention data were necessary.

The retention data generated from this study may spawn future research and influence curricular decisions relating to the composition of first-year experience courses for student-athletes.

–  –  –

1. What impact did participating in a student-athlete specific first-year experience course have on maintaining NCAA eligibility and meeting the NCAA progress-towarddegree completion guidelines after completing the first-year?

2. Were there significant mean differences in the grade-point average at the conclusion of the first semester and at the conclusion of the first academic year between Group A and Group B?

3. Were there significant differences in the percentage of student-athletes retained at the conclusion of the first academic year between Group A and Group B?

4. Were there significant mean differences in academic performance as measured by grade-point average between Groups A and B among student-athletes by sport, gender and ethnicity who participated in a first-year experience course?

5. Were there significant differences in the percentage of student-athletes retained at the conclusion of the first academic year between Groups A and B among studentathletes by sport, gender, and ethnicity who participated in a first-year experience course?

–  –  –

SLO 3: Identify and articulate individual learning style and abilities.

SLO 4: Engage in activities that promote connection to the university.

SLO 5: Develop and articulate short and long term academic and life goals.

–  –  –

Included within these objectives are the following three goals: The first goal is to provide an extended orientation to campus and to understand the importance of diversity on campus. This includes discussing institutional/academic policies and identifying and visiting key resources on camp us. It also involves discussing the meaning and value of a diverse and multicultural environment. The second goal is to assist students in understanding and improving their academic skills. These skills include time management, note-taking, and test-taking strategies. The third goal involves general wellness. Stress management, exercise, alcohol, tobacco, drugs, and nutrition are all discussed. This course serves as an overview of college life and is designed to promote a successful transition to college. The institution-specific textbook includes chapters on academic resources, adjusting to college, finance management, note- and test-taking skills, time management, alcohol and drugs, library literacy, stress management, diversity, and career development.





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Prior to the fall of 2006 student-athletes at EKU were separated into sections of GSO 100 populated exclusively by student-athletes. Since fall 2006 student-athletes have been integrated into GSO 100 sections composed of students from the general student body.

The participants in this study included 110 new first- year student-athletes entering in the fall of 2005 and the fall of 2006 at EKU, an NCAA Division I institution with an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 12,000 students. Percentages are listed in parenthesis. As a whole, the participants included 59 (53.6%) females and 51 (46.3%) males. The ethnic composition of the group was 89 (80.9%) White, 18 (16.3%) Black, 2 (1.8%) Hispanic, 1 (1%) other. The following sports were represented: 8 (7.2%) men’s baseball, 8 (7.2%) men’s basketball, 18 (16.3%) men’s football, 2 (1.8%) men’s golf, 2 (1.8%) men’s tennis, 13 (11.8%) men’s track, 10 (9%) women’s basketball, 2 (1.8%) women’s golf, 21(19%) women’s soccer, 11 (10%) women’s softball, 2 (1.8%) women’s tennis, 7 (6.3%) women’s track, and 6 (5.4%) women’s volleyball.

In fall 2005, 55 first semester student-athletes registered for GSO 100. This is Group A. Group A’s participants included 36 (65.4%) females and 19 (34.5%) males.

The ethnic composition of this group was 48 (87.2%) White, 6 (10.9%) Black, 1 (1.8%) Hispanic. The following sports were represented in Group A: 4 (7.2%) men’s baseball, 4 (7.2%) men’s basketball, 3 (5.4%) men’s track, 6 (10.9%) men’s football, 2 (3.6%) men’s golf, 6 (10.9%) women’s basketball, 1 (1.8%) women’s golf, 14 (25.4%) women’s soccer, 8 (14.5%) women’s softball, 2 (3.6%) women’s tennis, 3 (5.4%) women’s track, and 2 (3.6%) women’s volleyball.

Group A’s student-athletes were required to enroll in one of two athlete-specific sections of this course. These sections were populated exclusively by student-athletes and taught by members of the athletic-academic staff, specifically by either the Coordinator of Student- Athlete Academic Advising or by the Athletic Academic Advisor. These instructors were both Master’s degree student services professionals with specific work experience in the area of student-athlete academic support. Although these sections had the same learning outcomes, objectives, textbook, and a common syllabus, the assignments and other activities were presented in an athletic context and the studentathletes’ interactions with each other may have influenced the learning environment. For example, a lecture on motivation may have included athletic metaphors, e.g., clearing academic hurdles, while a homework assignment on time management may have involved creating a calendar for appropriate study time when traveling to sport competitions, and the section on maintaining a healthy lifestyle may have included information on the optimum amount of sleep and what foods to put into your body for maximum athletic performance.

In fall 2006, 55 first-semester student-athletes registered for GSO 100. This is Group B. Group B’s participants included 23 (41.8%) females and 32 (58.1%) males. The ethnic composition of this group was 41 (74.5%) White, 12 (21.8%) Black, 1 (1.8%)

Hispanic, and 1 (1.8%) other. The following sports were represented in Group B:

4 (7.2%) men’s baseball, 4 (7.2%) men’s basketball, 10 (1.8%) men’s track, 12 (21.8%) men’s football, 2 (3.6%) men’s tennis, 4 (7.2%) women’s basketball, 1 (1.8%) women’s golf, 7 (12.7%) women’s soccer, 3 (5.4%) women’s softball, 4 (7.2%) track, and 4 (7.2%) women’s volleyball. There were no athlete-specific sections and studentathletes were disbursed over 20 sections. All assignments were geared toward the general student body and were not presented in an athletic context. Sections were taught by a variety of academic and student affairs Master’s degree professionals, but no athleticacademic staff members taught these sections.

Only new first- year student-athletes unconditionally admitted to Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) are eligible to enroll in GSO 100. Students admitted with conditions were required to participate in a different and more intensive program specifically designed for at-risk students and are not included in this study. Transfer students with more than 29 semester hours of credit were not required to enroll in GSO 100 and were not included in this study.

–  –  –

All of the student-athlete demographic information (gender, ethnic group, and sport) and academic information (grade-point average and retention rates) were obtained from the Registrar’s Office at EKU through the SCT BANNER student information system. Student-athlete eligibility information was obtained through EKU’s Athletic Compliance Department. Student-athlete squad lists are submitted to the Registrar’s Office at the beginning of each semester by the Athletic Compliance Department. The information used in this study was the identical information used to compile the institution’s annual compliance report for the NCAA.

–  –  –

Research question 1 asks what impact participating in a student-athlete specific first-year experience course has on maintaining NCAA eligibility and meeting the NCAA progress-towards-degree guidelines after completing the first-year.

NCAA defines continuing progress-toward-degree completion for student-athletes

completing their first-year as:

• having earned 24 semester hours for the academic year

• having earned 18 credits earned during the fall and spring semesters

• earning a minimum grade-point average of 1.8

• earning a minimum of six credits per academic term. (NCAA, 2007a) Research question 2 asks if there were significant differences between the gradepoint averages of student-athletes in Group A compared to the student-athletes in Group B. The independent variable is defined by Group, either Group A or Group B. Group A includes the student-athletes and instructors and Group B includes the student-athletes, non-student-athletes, and the instructors. The dependent variables are the grade-point average of the student-athletes in Group A and Group B.

A distribution which included the high school grade-point averages, standardized test scores, and personal demographics were examined to ensure that Group A and Group B were similar. A one-way ANOVA was run to determine if there were significant mean differences between the first and second semester grade-point averages of studentathletes in Group A and Group B.



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