The relationship of intellective and demographic variables to the academic performance and persistence of technical college students

Date of Completion

January 1988


Education, Community College|Education, Technology of|Education, Vocational




The purpose of this study was twofold: (1) to explore the relationship of the combination of high school rank, Scholastic Aptitude Test scores, high school units and grades in mathematics and science, technical college program of study, and gender to the first quarter grade point averages of a sample of engineering technology students enrolled in a two-year technical college, and (2) to study the relationship of these variables and the first quarter grade average to group membership defined as persister, academic dropout, or voluntary dropout.^ The study sample consisted of 325 students who entered two-year engineering technology programs in the fall of 1983, 1984, or 1985. Hierarchical multiple regression was the statistical technique used to examine the relationship of the independent variables to first quarter grade average. The high school rank and SAT mathematics score explained 26.4 percent of the variance in the first quarter grade average. The engineering technology program in which the subject enrolled explained an additional 3.2 percent of the variance. The remaining variables failed to add significantly to the explanation of first quarter grades.^ Forty two percent of the sample dropped out of college within two years from the time of initial enrollment. Of these, 73 percent were considered academic dropouts with a grade average less than 2.0. Multiple discriminant function analysis was used to study the relationship of the variables to group membership. The Wilks' lambda test indicated the academic dropouts, voluntary dropouts, and persisters differed statistically based on the combination of variables being studied. Two discriminant functions resulted. The dominant variable for the first function was first quarter grade average. This function explained 57 percent of the variance in discriminant scores. The second function, comprised mainly of technical program of study, explained 5 percent. The discriminant analysis resulted in the correct classification of 79.4 percent of the cases. The greatest separation in the groups occurred between the academic dropouts and the other two groups. The ability of the variables to distinguish between persisters and voluntary dropouts was limited.^ Recommendations for increasing the academic integration of technical college students and thereby improving retention resulted from the study. ^