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The Factors Affecting Success in Robinson Scholars

The Robinson Scholars Program is a project launched by the University of Kentucky and its associates with the goal of reducing the high ratio of poverty in the Appalachian area by increasing the level of education of the locals. The article under review is called The Factors Affecting Success in Robinson Scholars by Amanda Dunn. The author reveals recommendations in regard to helping “the potential first-generation college students” to succeed in receiving a college degree and implementing knowledge in practical settings (Dunn, 2010). The present paper will summarize, discuss, and provide a reflection of this academic entry.

Summary and Critique

Potential participants of this program are chosen at the 8th grade and supported within the rest of high school to ensure their college readiness. After being enrolled in college, all freshmen receive a considerable amount of support in terms of orienting in college programs, academic commitment, and other obligations as well as practice. The entire college program consists of the 8 semesters, which last 4 years. Despite the above-described initiatives in assisting college students, a lot of them are put on academic and administrative probations. The probation period lasts for one additional semester when students are expected to demonstrate the improvement of grades and/or their academic performance that is related to the attendance, commitment to academic rules, etc. Hence, even this measure is not effective enough to prevent the high level of academic failure that ends with dismissals.

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The problem that advocates the significance of research is that only ¼ of the enrolled freshmen obtain a college degree (Dunn, 2010). These statistics imply that the funding of the Robinson Scholars Program is not used effectively, because it is suggested that the level of successful graduations should be much higher. The purpose of the reviewed study is to detect the reasons that inhibit the potential of enrollers. The findings are utilized to provide a set of workable solutions that are aimed at increasing the academic success of students, hence, contributing to the improvement of the Appalachian neighborhood.

The survey is limited to the following four research questions. Firstly, it is suggested that students’ gender may be one of the causes that are positively related to a high level of probations and dismissal. Secondly, the author assumes that the academic excellence, in particular, ACT scores, and the amount of program funding correlate with the low number of college graduates. Furthermore, the goal of survey is to verify whether there is any connection between students’ origin and the level of academic failures. Finally, this research will explore the relation between the time variable and the level of probations/dismissals. In other words, it is hypothesized that a certain college year/semester may be more perceptive for the aforementioned issues.

The type of study is a quantitative research. The data is obtained from the primary resource, namely “the Robinson Scholars Program office” (Dunn, 2010, p. 11). The sample consists of 380 students who were enrolled within the period of 1997-2009. The sample amounts to the 2/3 of the entire number of the program participants, which occurred due to the inconsistency of statistical data about the enrolled students. In this regard, it is necessary to stress that this peculiarity is crucial and needs to be considered while defining the probability of an error and verifying the validity of findings. The implemented analytical tool is the multivariate analysis. The author identifies two dependent variables, in particular they are the ratio of probation and the ratio of dismissals (Dunn, 2010).  The independent variables that are being analyzed include “student gender, ACT exam score, ACT subject test scores (English, Math, Reading, and Science), Robinson Scholar Program funding amount, county of origin, and semester of the student’s college career” (Dunn, 2010, p. 12). A regression analysis model was developed for each dependent variable and all the aforementioned explanatory variables.

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The obtained results reveal that the time variable correlates with the amount of probations and dismissals to a considerable degree. In particular, it is detected that the second and third semesters are the most probable period for these issues to occur. The author suggests that this peculiarity is connected with the insufficient level of academic assistance (Dunn, 2010). Therefore, she recommends to improve and prolong mentoring of the freshmen and sophomores. In addition, the findings depict that administrative probations are more prevalent among students of the higher years of studies, which may be caused by the attempts of combining careers with education. Thus, education officials are advised to improve the communication with junior and senior students. In particular, it is recommended to implement the inspirational leadership instead of the imposed authority.

Moreover, the students’ origin is related with the level of probations and dismissals, but surprisingly, it is not related to the socio-economic environment of the identified areas. In other words, students who are at risk of the academic failure do not come from distressed neighborhoods. Thus, the link between students’ origin and their academic performance remains unexplained. The author suggests that this interesting finding can be the basis for the future research that should help in understanding patterns of the academic excellence and failure (Dunn, 2010). Besides, the strong connection is traced between gender and ACT scores. Specifically, being a female and having good scores significantly limits the likelihood of probations and dismissals.

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Personal Reflection

The provided recommendations resonate with the identified issues (administrative and academic probations and dismissals) and their causes (insufficient academic assistance, students’ gender, origin, and academic success). With the purpose of increasing the practical value of recommendations, it is advised to combine the above-described quantitative research with the qualitative primary data. In particular, it is necessary to interview students who were at different types of probations, those who are at risk of being put on probation, and those, who demonstrate a good academic performance. In addition, the testimony of students may be compared with the data obtained from their tutors. The mixed study would have provided a more thorough picture about the factors that contribute to the discussed academic failures.

Therefore, the Robinson Scholars Program needs to be advanced in order to provide a more substantial assistance to its students. Specifically, the data about enrollers should be more complete, analyzed, and systemized. Such individualized approach may serve to improve the communication between students and tutorial staff, who should mitigate the likelihood of administrative probations. In addition, since they are the potential first-generation college graduates, they need to develop an academic readiness. This insight means that the academic courses should be reviewed and improved.

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