Date of Award:

1994

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

Concurrent enrollment of high school students in college classes is becoming more common but it has not been clear if high school students can learn the material as well as college students. This study examined high-school and college students' learning by exposing them to the same text, a similar lesson plan, and the same test questions, while controlling for demographic, attitudinal, and experiential variables. Two questions were addressed: (a) Was there a practical difference between high school and college students in their ability to learn the material; and (b) was there a difference in the way they learned the material? The difference between college and high-school student learning as it was reflected by their test scores was less than three percentage points, with college students averaging higher. Although this was a statistically significant difference, there appeared to be no practical difference between high school and college students in their ability to learn the material. However, simple mean comparisons indicated that besides age, grade level, and scores, college and high-school students differed in a statistically significant way in their perception of teacher involvement, and how easy the class was. Furthermore, hierarchically regressing scores on a-order correlates, with a dichotomous variable representing high-school or college status entered last, still yielded a statistically significant difference between high-school and college student scores. Learning differences between groups were further defined using separate regression equations based on the expected independence of college students compared with the dependence of high school students. The expectation that there may have been a difference in the way students learned in high school and college appeared to have been confirmed. That is, factors related to independence seemed to predict college student scores better than those of high school students, and factors related to dependence predicted high-school student scores better than those of college students.

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