Date of Award:

1979

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Psychology

Advisor/Chair:

Elwin C. Nielsen

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a peer counseling program in improving undergraduate students' academic adjustment. Six upperclassmen were carefully selected and systematically trained in the use of a study skills instruction program and certain supportive, therapeutic techniques. These six served as peer counselors. The peer counseling program provided individualized study skills instruction, informal personal/motivational counseling, and general educational information and advising for volunteer students in academic difficulty.

Twenty-one volunteer students each completed a minimum of four sessions with a peer counselor. The first objective of the study was to determine if the students who participated in the peer counseling program improved in their study skills and attitudes. A t-test for correlated means was used to analyze differences in the pretest and posttest means of the Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes and the Effective Study Test. The second objective of the study was to determine if students who participated in the peer counseling program made a better academic adjustment to college than a matched group of students who did not participate in the program. Three measures of academic adjustment were examined. First, grade point average for the quarter following participation for the treatment and control groups was compared using a t-test for correlated means. Secondly, the proportion of students who dropped in academic standing during the quarter following participation in the treatment group was compared with the proportion of students who dropped in academic standing in the control group by means of the sign test. Finally, the proportion of students who dropped out of school the quarter following participation and two quarters after participation in the treatment group was compared with the proportion of students in the control group who dropped out of school at corresponding times by utilizing the Cochran Q test.

The peer counseling program was effective in improving the study skills and attitudes of students in academic difficulty. The 21 students showed a mean improvement of approximately one standard deviation from the pretest to the posttest on the Survey of Study Habits and Attitudes and on the Effective Study Test. No significant difference was found between students who participated in the program and a matched group who did not participate on grade point average, academic standing, or dropout rate. It was recommended that further research utilize a experimental design with random assignment of students to the two groups and examine the impact that the program has on the individual peer counselors.

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