The purpose of this study was to explore the affects of an academic advising system, the Academic Concept Mapping (ACM) instrument, on academic performance of first-semester freshmen enrolled in a four year public university in the South, during fall 2006. The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory (CCTDIŽ), a Likert-type instrument, was administered to 258 students enrolled in 12 sections (six treatment, six control) of a freshman seminar class to determine if ACM participation made a difference in scores by group type. As an additional measure, an ACM quiz was administered to all students in the ACM study. Three instructors participated, following a model much like the Solomon 4-group design, each having two treatment and two control group sections. Class sections were randomly assigned to the instructors after students registered, and were then randomly assigned a group type.
The study sample approximated the overall composition of entering freshman, with a slightly higher proportion of black students in the sample. The sample consisted of more females than males, more white students than minorities, ACT composites around 20, and hours enrolled around 14. Students were of traditional age, most working part-time, most living at home or on-campus, spent little time reading, socialized most nights of the week, watched television approximately two hours each day, worried about bills, and rated their study skills as good or needing improvement. Primary college funding was from external sources rather than from parents or from self.
ACM participation was significantly associated with semester grade point average, progression, and persistence. Students in the treatment group had higher ACM quiz scores, earned higher grade point averages, completed more of their classes, and persisted at a higher rate. ACM study participation, ACM quiz scores, ACT composite, gender, worry about bills, and reading were included in multiple regression analysis, explaining a little over 35% of the variance in semester grade point average. ACM quiz scores, ACT composite, and gender accounted for approximately 11% of the variability in the percentage of semester hours successfully completed, and ACM study participation was the sole predictor of persistence in the university (roughly 6%) using a logistic regression model.