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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relation of high school academic achievement and curricula and other factors to academic achievement at a community college Harper, Jane Kathryn


This study investigated the relationship of academic achievement and curricula in Grades 11 and 12 in high school, and other factors, to subsequent achievement at a community college. British Columbia high school graduation requirements were changed in September 1972 which resulted in the removal of compulsory province-wide Grade 12 examinations, the introduction of more liberal course selection requirements and the promotion of locally developed curricula. The sample of 643 subjects included students who attended all or part of Grades 11 and 12 at New Westminster secondary schools (NWSS) and subsequently completed course work at Douglas College between September 1970 and July 1977. T-tests, product-moment correlations and multiple regression analyses were the statistical procedures used. The first major hypothesis explored the correlation between high school and college grade point averages (GPA's). This relationship was studied by grouping the data according to college entry age, number of years between high school and college, high school leaving date (pre-or post-September 1972) or completion of high school graduation requirements. The other major hypothesis involved the correlation between high school and college achievement in similar clusters, of courses/ subject areas. Courses were allotted to one of ten clusters—Art, Business, Early Childhood Education, English/Communications, Fashion and Interior Design, Humanities, Industrial Arts, Recreation, Science or Social Science. Changes in college cluster GPA's were investigated according to the number of courses a student had taken in corresponding high school clusters. The variables sex, college entry age and college enrolment status were considered for all hypotheses tested. Women did better than men at college, an advantage that diminished with increased college entry age. Part-time students did not do as well as their full-time counterparts, especially if they were young and/or male. Further study was recommended on part-time college students. There was a positive correlation between GPA's in high school and college. A "maturity factor" played a significant role in the academic achievement of college students. Mature entries (25+) and those who took at least two years "off" after high school earned higher grades. Lack of a high school diploma made little difference to the college success of mature entries, which was not the case for young entries. These results gave support to the college "open door" admissions policy. Further research was recommended on the components of the "maturity" (entry age) variable and the relationship between it and academic success. Students who attended high school before the 1972 changes did slightly better in college, despite the fact that their high school GPA's had been lower. The findings were attributed to variables in their high school background such as required basic preparation in "essential" curricula (English, mathematics, sciences, social sciences and second languages) and/or a more "rigorous" high school experience with higher academic standards. The data pointed to a recent decline in academic standards at New Westminster Secondary School. Correlations between high school and college GPA's were slightly higher for post-September 1972 high school leavers. High school GPA's were more reliable as predictors of college achievement for the post-1972 group. This was attributed to the fact that this group of students had been able to select their high school courses mainly by interest, ability and need instead of by the pre-1972 restrictions and require- merits. Presumably college programs were selected on the former bases. The variables used in the regression equations accounted for only 17 to 24% of the variance of grades in the college clusters of Business, English/Communications, Humanities, Recreation, Science and Social Science. Regressions were not run on four clusters due to insufficient numbers of subjects. Academic achievement in college clusters was not related to any great extent to either the grades received or the number of courses taken in corresponding high school clusters, for either pre-or post-1972 high school leavers. The suggestion that college entrance examinations be introduced to ensure minimal entry standards of preparation in "essential" curricula was not supported. Success in all college clusters tested, except English, was more closely related to high school GPA than it was to experience and/or grades in corresponding high school clusters. This implied that most patterns of high school courses were equally good college preparation, as long as certain thresholds of ability and past performance had been achieved.

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