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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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Group performance was not consistent across the different ethnic groups for either first semester GPA or cumulative GPA after the first academic year.

Research Question 5: Retention Rates by Sport, Gender, and Ethnicity Were there significant differences in the percentage of student-athletes retained at the conclusion of the second semester between Groups A and B among student-athletes by sport, gender, and ethnicity who participated in a first- year experience course?

Several differences were observed based on the retention data by gender and ethnicity (Table 15). Males in Group A (89.4%) returned after their second semester at a much higher rate than males in Group B (59.3%). A Chi-Square Test was run and the probability was less than 0.05 indicating that there was a significant difference between the two groups. Although not significantly different (Table 15), females in Group B (78.2%) returned after their second semester at a higher rate than females in Group A (63.8%).

Several differences were observed based upon the retention data by sport-profile, gender, and ethnicity (Table 16). High profile student-athletes in Group A (75%) returned after their first academic year at the same rate as high profile student-athletes in Group B (75%). Low profile white male student-athletes in Group A (88.8%) returned for their sophomore year at a significantly higher rate than low profile white male studentathletes in Group B (42.8%). Although not significantly different, low profile white females in Group B (76.4%) returned for their sophomore year at a much higher rate than low profile white females in Group A (65.3%).

Table 15 Retention Table by Gender and Ethnicity

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* Groups with one category that included one group 5 were not calculated Chapter V will include a summary and a discussion of the results, conclusions, limitations, recommended future research, and some final observations.

Table 16 Retention Rates by Sport Profile, Gender, and Ethnicity

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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).

The research questions below address the key areas related to this overall

question:

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?

Quantitative data were collected regarding the grade-point average, and first-year retention rates of student-athletes 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.

This chapter discusses the key findings based on the results of the five research questions. The findings and their relationship to student-athlete academic success, firstyear experience courses designed specifically for student-athletes and student-athlete retention are discussed. Recommendations are made for improving the delivery of student services to student-athletes in an effort to improve their academic performance and retention rates. The limitations of this study are discussed as well as suggestions for future research.

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The data collected regarding student-athletes from Group A and Group B led to several observations about the characteristics of the student-athletes enrolled in first-year experience courses. Although the two groups differed in their composition by gender, it was noted that these groups did not differ with regard to ethnicity, sport-profile type, and college readiness (high school GPA and ACT scores).





One of the primary benefits of offering a student-athlete specific first-year experience course taught by athletic academic personnel is that academic progresstowards-degree can be monitored. In this study the vast majority of students in Group A (50/55) and Group B (50/55) met the NCAA progress-toward-degree requirements.

Although student-athletes in Group A were directly exposed to these requirements in their first-year experience course, they met the progress-towards-degree requirements at the exact same level as the student-athletes in Group B who were not directly exposed to these course requirements.

The academic performance of student-athletes, specifically first semester and cumulative first academic year grade point average, in Group A and Group B were not significantly different. Student-athletes participating in first- year experience courses designed for the general student body and taught by faculty not affiliated with the athletic department performed at the same academic level as student-athletes in student-athlete specific first-year experience courses taught by athletic-academic staff. This seems to demonstrate that although student-athletes are clearly a special population; an athleteonly special orientation course is not required to ensure academic success.

As an entire population, student-athletes in Group A and Group B did not differ significantly with regard to their first year retention rates. More specifically, as a whole, student-athletes in Group A and Group B returned to school after their second semester at equivalent rates.

There were few significant differences between Group A and Group B regarding mean first semester and cumulative first academic year GPA by sport-profile, gender, and ethnicity. Student-athletes’ GPAs from Group A and Group B did not differ in terms of sport-profile type and by gender. Significance differences were seen in ethnicity and group, but these were difficult to quantify due to the small percentage of minority student-athletes in Group A (13%) and Group B (26%).

Retention rates by sport-profile, gender, and ethnicity were similar between Group A and Group B. No significant differences in student-athlete retention were observed with regard to males in high profile sports and females in both high and low profile sports. Relationships relating to ethnicity were not calculated due to multiple cells of less than five student-athletes among both males and females in Group A and Group B.

A significant difference was observed among white males participating in lowprofile sports. White males participating in low-profile sports in Group A returned after their second semester at an 89% rate, while white males in low-profile sports in Group B returned after their second semester at a 43% rate. This is of particular interest because Group A and Group B did not demonstrate significant differences with regard to academic performance during the first or second semester. These student-athletes were successful in the classroom and eligible by NCAA standards, but were leaving the institution at a much higher rate than similar students participating in an athlete-specific first-year experience course. The researcher believes that the low retention rates of white males participating in low-profile sports may be related to their identity and desire to be involved in the ‘athletic culture’ of the university. Student-athletes participating in lowprofile sports typically receive less scholarship money than student-athletes participating in high-profile sports. Low-profile students’ primary reason for choosing to enroll at EKU might have been to participate in intercollegiate athletics. It also may be more difficult for the low- profile student-athletes to build relationships with the staff of the Student-Athlete Academic Support (SAAS) staff. Resources are limited and athletes in high-profile sports, more specifically, athletes receiving full scholarships do tend to get more attention from the SAAS staff. Participating in a first-year experience course taught by SAAS staff does allow the student-athletes participating in low-profile sport an increased opportunity to embrace the ‘athletic-culture’ and to bond with the SAAS staff.

Research has also shown that males tend to seek out and embrace the ‘athletic-culture’ at higher levels than females (Adler & Adler, 1991; Bowen & Levin, 2003; Shulman & Bowen, 2001).

–  –  –

The results of this study show that there was no significant difference in academic performance and NCAA progress-towards degree between student-athletes in Group A and those in Group B. There was also very little difference in retention rates between the groups with the exception of white males participating in low-profile sports. Based on these findings it is the researcher’s proposition that student-athletes should be integrated into first-year experience courses that are designed for the general student body. Studentathletes should be considered students first and athletes second. The integrated class provides a general orientation to campus that increases the student-athletes ability to engage in the complete university experience.

It is also the researcher’s proposition that the CHAMPS/ Life Skills program at EKU should be strengthened and participation should be required of all student-athletes.

EKU does not have a full-time athletic staff person assigned to handle the CHAMPS/Life Skills program. This is not uncommon at small and mid-size NCAA Division I institutions. This non-academic program would better meet the needs of students who are seeking to belong to the ‘athletic-culture’ and give the SAAS staff a better opportunity to bond with new student-athletes.

–  –  –

There are several limitations in the design of the present study that impact its generalizabity and internal validity. Students in Group A and Group B were taught by different instructors. Although common course goals and learning objectives were used, there was no way to control for differences between course instructors. Due to time limitations no classroom observations were conducted.

Small sample sizes made it difficult to draw any conclusions relating to ethnicity.

EKU is a predominantly white institution and the groups did not have enough minority students to draw reliable conclusions.

Additionally, the researcher was involved in both the curriculum development of the GSO 100 course and the direct supervision of the SAAS staff. Although efforts were made to control bias or subjectivity, the researcher’s close relationship to the GSO course and the SAAS staff could have led to oversimplification or faulty conclusions.

–  –  –

This study specifically explored the academic performance and retention rates of two groups of students over a one-year period. No longitudinal data were collected regarding these groups. It would be interesting to track these student groups over a fourto six-year period and compare their GPAs, retention rates, and graduation rates.



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