Predicting Student Success/Failure

Malcolm Wellstead

University of Hertfordshire

It would be nice to think that there is a straight line relationship between cognitive ability and performance by university undergraduates. Unfortunately we all know that this is not so because of a number of variables which may either enhance or depress the performance of the student. There are a number of questionnaires/tests that are used to help predict the success or failure of university students. The measures from all of these have some degree of correlation with results, but not especially high because each deals with only one variable in a complex situation. The purpose of this study is combine various measures in a multivariate approach in an attempt to provide a better presictor of performance and identify the most significant variables that tutors may affect in an attempt to improve performance.

The study involved 75 first year undergraduate students on business studies and related programmes all of whom completed a number of questionnaires and undertook a test of cognitive ability. The results of a multivariate analysis show an improved predictive ability but only by using a high number of variables. It would also appear that the study has not taken into account a significant variable. However, the results are sufficiently encouraging to continue the search for a multivariate model with a second larger sample and including an additional variable.

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