DIFFERENCES IN GRADE POINT AVERAGES AS A FUNCTION OF CREDIT ATTAINMENT FOR STUDENTS AT A TEXAS 4-YEAR PUBLIC UNIVERSITY
Behnke, Bryn M
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Purpose The purpose of this study was multifaceted. One goal of this quantitative study was to determine if GPA differences exist for students as a function of their pathway of credit attainment (i.e., dual credit, transfer credits, or first-time undergraduate students who obtain all credits at one institution). The three pathways examined included earning dual credits in high school, attending a 2-year institution then transferring to a 4-year institution, and students earning all credits at a 4-year institution. Students’ GPA averages were examined at the following levels: 30 credits earned, 60 credits earned, 90 credits earned, and degree completion from a Texas state funded institution for the 2005-2006 through the 2015-2016 academic years. This study expanded on what was known about the three pathways individually, but also built the foundation for what was not known about the three pathways comparatively. This study also provided students a blueprint for earning college credits and ultimately leading to the greatest overall academic performance (i.e., higher GPAs). Method To examine the research questions, a Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and General Linear Model (GLM) were used to investigate whether the independent variables predict the dependent variables of GPA at various points across credit attainment. Grade point averages at graduation revealed statistically significant results (p < .001) for all relationships. Utilizing a cross-sectional, non-experimental study combined with student records from a 4-year public university in Texas, the researcher examined the change in variance for credit attainment pathways and GPAs at specific points in students’ educational experience. Different credit attainment options served as the independent variables. Exploring differences in GPAs at 30 credit hours earned, 60 credit hours earned, 90 credit hours earned, and graduation represented the dependent variables. Findings In summary, statistically significant differences for each of the research question indicated variance was present for the three pathways comparatively at the four different GPA values. Students with dual credit experience graduated with a 3.31 GPA average. Community college transfer students graduated with the second highest average GPA of 3.20, followed by first-time undergraduate students graduating with a 3.12 average GPA. Students in each of the three pathways experienced GPA increases from 30 credit hours earned to graduation. Results, discussion, implications and recommendations for future research were discussed.