About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 8452-8459
Publication year: 2015
ISBN: 978-84-608-2657-6
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2015
Location: Seville, Spain

'WHERE THERE IS DOUBT': USING PSYCHOMETRICS TO IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK OF NON-COMPLETION

C. Mair1, L. Sanders2, R. James2

1London College of Fashion (UNITED KINGDOM)
2Cardiff Metropolitan University (UNITED KINGDOM)
The transition to Higher Education (HE) is acknowledged to be challenging and has been likened by some to ‘entering an alien environment’, a challenge that is ‘under-rated and affects all students’. Moreover Widening Participation initiatives mean rising numbers of ‘first generation university students’, those with no family history of HE who may be therefore be least prepared for the experience. Such initiatives also encourage returners to higher education as part of life-long learning programmes. Whilst university can be a life-enhancing step, dropping out or not completing can have a deleterious effect on self-esteem. Furthermore high attrition rates adversely affect an institution’s reputation. Thus it is in everyone’s interest to ensure that new students are offered appropriate levels of support to enhance retention and course completion. Early identification of students most at risk of non-completion would enable focussed deployment of supportive interventions.

Recently completed prospective research into the progress of Foundation Year students identified psychometric factors that are apparently predictive of non-completion of the course. That study showed that that age was unrelated to successful completion We have extended this research to ascertain whether these psychometric tests can be diagnostic for direct entry undergraduates.

Participants were recruited across 19 programme areas in two contrasting universities, one devoted to the arts and the other with a focus on science. Data were collected right at the start of the first year, undergraduates were invited to complete the Academic Behavioural Confidence (ABC) scale where participants indicate their level of confidence in undertaking behaviours related to studying. This has four subscales: Studying, Attendance, Grades and Verbalising. These data were compared with examining board outcomes from the following summer from which we identified two groups: Progressing and Non-Progressing students. We acknowledge that the second group was heterogeneous including withdrawals and those with mitigating circumstances as well as those who had failed.

The age range of the 560 participants extended from traditionally-aged students (18-20) to a handful in their 50s. Examining board data showed that those aged 21-40, Younger Returners, (N=207) had progression rates comparable to those of traditional aged students. However the small number of Mature Returners (N=25), namely those over 40, had a higher non-progression rate (52%) than the rest.
Progression data from the examining board was used to analyse the psychometric data. Nonparametric analysis identified two subscales as predictive of subsequent non completion, although these were not equally effective across the age groups.

These data suggest that the ABC may be used to identify those at risk of non-progression for traditional aged and younger returners. It appears ineffective as a diagnostic tool for more mature students. The latter’s high level of confidence in attending yet relatively poor outcome is worthy of further consideration in the context of thwarted commitment for the more mature returner to education.
@InProceedings{MAIR2015WHE,
author = {Mair, C. and Sanders, L. and James, R.},
title = {'WHERE THERE IS DOUBT': USING PSYCHOMETRICS TO IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK OF NON-COMPLETION},
series = {8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2015 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-608-2657-6},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Seville, Spain},
month = {18-20 November, 2015},
year = {2015},
pages = {8452-8459}}
TY - CONF
AU - C. Mair AU - L. Sanders AU - R. James
TI - 'WHERE THERE IS DOUBT': USING PSYCHOMETRICS TO IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK OF NON-COMPLETION
SN - 978-84-608-2657-6/2340-1095
PY - 2015
Y1 - 18-20 November, 2015
CI - Seville, Spain
JO - 8th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2015 Proceedings
SP - 8452
EP - 8459
ER -
C. Mair, L. Sanders, R. James (2015) 'WHERE THERE IS DOUBT': USING PSYCHOMETRICS TO IDENTIFY STUDENTS AT RISK OF NON-COMPLETION, ICERI2015 Proceedings, pp. 8452-8459.
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