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Individual and school-level effects of academic preparation and socioeconomic factors on retention of university students in Puerto Rico. Sandra L. Dika, PhD, Assistant Professor David R. González-Barreto, PhD, Professor Office of Institutional Research and Planning

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Sandra L. Dika, PhD, Assistant Professor David R. González-Barreto, PhD, Professor

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Sandra l dika phd assistant professor david r gonz lez barreto phd professor

Individual and school-level effects of academic preparation and socioeconomic factors on retention of university students in Puerto Rico

Sandra L. Dika, PhD, Assistant Professor

David R. González-Barreto, PhD, Professor

Office of Institutional Research and Planning

University of Puerto Rico - Mayaguez

2009 Association for Institutional Research Forum, Atlanta, GA

June 1, 2009

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Introduction

Introduction

  • Over two decades of research in United States on factors associated with retention in college

    • Previous academic achievement

      • High school GPA

      • Standardized test scores, e.g., SAT

    • Socioeconomic factors

      • Family income

      • Parental education attainment (first generation)

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Introduction1

Introduction

  • Research in K-12 education indicates effects of school culture and environment on:

    • High school achievement

    • High school completion

    • College attendance

  • Some studies looking at the effects of social and cultural capital on college attendance, retention, and achievement model “quality of school” (e.g., Perna, 2000; Wells, 2008)

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Introduction2

Introduction

  • Research on college retention outside the US – in different social, cultural, and economic contexts - is limited

  • No published research on factors that influence retention in Puerto Rico, however, institutional research at largest public institution points to possible relationships

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Puerto rico

Puerto Rico


Puerto rico1

Puerto Rico

N

Population densities:

US: 31 p/km2

Mexico: 54.5 p/km2

Canada: 3.3 p/km2

Puerto Rico:

Dimensions: 180 km x 65 km

Population: 3.8 millions

Pop. Density: 325p/km2


Family income in puerto rico

Family Income in Puerto Rico

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Connection between upr admission index and income

Connection Between UPR Admission Index and Income

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Connection between retention and income uprm

Connection Between Retention and Income (UPRM)

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Performance based on high school of origin

Performance based on High School of Origin

  • Five college level indicators (CI) to provide feedback to high school personnel on the performance of their students at our institution

    • First year retention rate

    • GPA in math, Spanish, and English courses

    • Graduation rate

  • Some surprises that counter common perceptions about students from local high schools

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Filling the gap

Filling the Gap

  • Need for a study to examine which academic achievement and socioeconomic factors play a role in retention for Puerto Rican college students

  • Need for additional exploration of school level factors (as social and cultural capital) in college retention

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Research question

Research Question

  • How well do individual and school-level academic achievement and socioeconomic factors predict retention of public college students in Puerto Rico?

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


University of puerto rico mayaguez

University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez

  • Part of UPR system (11 campuses)

  • Over 12,000 students

  • Bilingual Hispanic Serving Institution

  • STEM focused (60% of undergraduates)

  • High female participation in STEM

  • 71% receive financial aid

  • 22% “first generation”

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Sample and instrumentation

Sample and Instrumentation

  • All first-year, first time students entering UPRM between 2000 and 2007 in two income categories representing income extremes for our population (N=5,408):

    • $15,000 and below

    • $40,000 and above

  • All variables obtained or created from data available in institutional student information system – admissions and enrollment data

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Measuring family income

Measuring Family Income

  • Family income measurement restricted due to data available from UPR admissions form

    • Nine (9) categories from less than $7,500 to $50,000 or higher

    • We chose to include income “extremes” (bottom 2 and top 2 categories) to approximate low-income and high-income families in the context of Puerto Rican society (based on census data; median income for family of four: $26,822)

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Measuring first generation

Measuring “First Generation”

  • Most research operationalizes “First Generation” college students as those for whom neither parent has completed a four-year college degree

  • Our operationalization of “First Generation” is slightly different based on local context: students for whom neither parent has completed studies after high school

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Measuring school level effects

Measuring School Level Effects

  • PR Department of Education and UPR in process of developing comprehensive K-16 database for public education

  • School level variables in this study are averages or proportions for students admitted to UPRM and are not representative of the entire high school student body from those schools

  • May consider that these represent social and cultural capital among peer groups of “college goers”

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Independent variables individual level

Independent Variables – Individual Level

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Independent variables school level

Independent Variables – School Level

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Dependent variable

Dependent Variable

  • Retention

    • Full-time enrollment in second year of studies at institution

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Data analysis

Data Analysis

  • Descriptive statistics and correlations among variables

  • Logistic regression

  • All statistical tests evaluated at the α=.05 level

  • All analyses conducted using Minitab

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Descriptive statistics

Descriptive Statistics

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Differences between family income education groups

Differences between Family Income-Education Groups

  • Ran an ANOVA to determine if differences in academic achievement among the four FIE groups

    • HSGPA: Significantly higher for low income students, regardless of parent education level – GPA higher for public school students

    • English achievement: Significantly higher for high income students, regardless of parent education level; and low income/not First Generation significantly higher than low income/First Generation

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Differences between family income education groups1

Differences between Family Income-Education Groups

  • For academic achievement (first year GPA)

    • Significantly higher for high income/not First Generation students; no differences among the other 3 groups

    • FIE clearly seems to be a factor in college academic achievement for this sample

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Family income and education

Family Income and Education

Total FG = 22.5%

Total low income = 33.4%

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Correlations

Correlations

***p<.001

Results of particular interest:

HSGPA and PFG – explain this as higher GPAs for public school students

PFG and AVENG – shows marked school types, which we trace to public/private differences

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Gpa lower for private school students particularly for high income

GPA lower for private school students, particularly for high income

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


English achievement higher for private school students regardless of income

English achievement higher for private school students, regardless of income

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Math achievement higher for private school students regardless of income

Math achievement higher for private school students, regardless of income

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Individual level predictors of retention

Individual Level Predictors of Retention

  • Three individual level factors were significant for predicting retention

    • High school GPA (z=14.30, p<.001)

    • Family income and education

      • High-income/not First Generation students more likely to persist to second year than low-income/First Generation students (z=4.01, p<.001)

    • Standardized math aptitude (z=3.37, p<.01)

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


School level predictors of retention

School Level Predictors of Retention

  • Neither of the school level factors were significant for predicting retention 

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Follow up analysis achievement

Follow-Up Analysis - Achievement

  • After running the logistic regression for retention, we decided to explore the predictive value of these variables on achievement using stepwise regression

    • College GPA – First year GPA

    • Alpha to enter and remove = .15

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Predictors of achievement

Predictors of Achievement

  • Final model explains 35% variance in college GPA

    • High school GPA (25%)

    • Average standardized English achievement in school of origin (8%)

    • Standardized math aptitude (1%)

    • Standardized English achievement (.5%)

    • Family income and education (each less than .25%)

      • HI-NFG> LI-FG students

      • HI-FG< LI-FG students

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Interpretation and discussion of results retention

Interpretation and Discussion of Results - Retention

  • High school GPA emerged as the most important predictor (by far), and math aptitude was also significant

  • These elements compose 75% of the UPR admission index (HSGPA=50%, math aptitude=25%) – verbal aptitude in Spanish composes the other 25%

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Interpretation and discussion of results retention1

Interpretation and Discussion of Results - Retention

  • Both family income and education level appear to play a role in retention – the combination of low-income and first generation puts students at a disadvantage when compared to peers from higher income homes where at least one parent has an associate degree

  • None of the school level factors predict retention

    • Relative socioeconomic homogeneity of schools may account for this

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Interpretation and discussion of results achievement

Interpretation and Discussion of Results – Achievement

  • While the significance of high school GPA and math aptitude not surprising given results for retention, standardized English achievement – both individual and school level - emerged as factors

    • English achievement be acting as a proxy for income

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Interpretation and discussion of results achievement1

Interpretation and Discussion of Results – Achievement

  • Result that students from high income, First Generation families perform significantly worse than students from low income, First Generation families suggest that parent education level may be more important than income in predicting achievement

  • Need to look closer at other characteristics of the sub-group of high income, First Generation – who are they? Do they come from particular schools or neighborhoods?

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Implications for institutional practices

Implications for Institutional Practices

  • Institutions can create programs or target additional resources toward students who might be at risk of leaving after the first year or for poor academic performance

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Conclusions

Conclusions

  • Preliminary study indicates that certain academic achievement and socioeconomic factors may be important predictors of retention and academic achievement for public college students in Puerto Rico

  • Certain school level factors may influence retention and achievement – more research must be conducted

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Limitations

Limitations

  • Students at UPRM not representative of Puerto Rican college students in general

    • Significantly higher retention and graduation rates than all private four-year institutions; however, most selective institution on island

  • Model not inclusive of important variables that may predict retention

  • Measurement of income restricted by data available from admissions process

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Continuing research

Continuing Research

  • Continue refining measures of income at individual and school levels

  • Include variables on high school course-taking - e.g., advanced courses, number of math credits

  • Develop models to test school level effects using global school data available from PR Department of Education (limitation – public schools only)

  • Test model with other dependent variables – e.g., number of approved credits in first year

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


Sandra l dika phd assistant professor david r gonz lez barreto phd professor

Contact information:

Sandra Dika - [email protected]

David González-Barreto – [email protected]

Paper and presentation available for download at

http://oiip.uprm.edu/pres1.html

Dika & González-Barreto, 2009 AIR Forum


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