An exploration of the relationship of explanatory style to academic achievement, college student persistence, ACT/SAT composite scores, and college student inventory measures
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship of explanatory style to academic performance, SAT or ACT composite scores, College Student Inventory (CSI) data, and retention or attrition of Montana State University College of Agriculture students. The predictive capability of measured independent variables to anticipate first to second year attrition of freshmen in the College of Agriculture (COA) at Montana State University (MSU) was tested. The potential for using the Academic Attributional Style Questionnaire (AASQ) to identify COA students most susceptible to attrition during their freshmen year at MSU was ascertained. Freshmen took the CSI during summer orientation and the AASQ was administered to students in four COA classes. A cohort group of COA full-time, first-time freshmen that had taken both the CSI and AASQ was established and tracked from the fall of 2004 through the fall of 2005. Retention was defined as enrollment in the COA for a second fall semester. The majority of the cohort group was female, white/Caucasian, had been enrolled in a high school agriculture class, graduated from high schools with enrollments less than 400 students, had been involved in 4-H or FFA, and intended to seek a graduate level degree. Mothers were more highly educated than fathers. Most students planned to work while in college. The only independent variable significantly correlated with retention was second semester cumulative GPA. The combination of second semester cumulative GPA, plans to work, degree sought, and high school agriculture class enrollment was able to predict 19 percent of the variance in retention rates. However, contrary to the literature, high school agriculture class enrollment was negatively correlated with retention. The majority of students demonstrated neither optimistic nor pessimistic explanatory styles. Significant relationships were shown between explanatory style and high school GPA, study habits, sociability, and openness to financial guidance. The AASQ demonstrated little value for recognizing students in the cohort susceptible to attrition from the COA, but did indicate some usefulness for use as an advising tool.