A Comparative Study of Cognitive and Non-cognitive Factors Relationship to Academic Success For Foreign Master's Students

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Stephenson, Lisa Ann
Schmidtlein, Frank
This study examined ways to improve the predictability of academic success in the selection and admission procedures for foreign students, compared to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. The population consisted of students who enrolled in master's degree programs in the fall semesters of 1995, 1996 and 1997 at the University of Maryland, College Park. Of the 3,275 students, 595 were considered to be foreign students, 118 were permanent residents and 2,544 were U.S. citizens. The study examined literature dealing with academic success to determine the degree to which selected cognitive and noncognitive variables were related to academic success for foreign students. Ten predictor variables were selected to determine their relationship to four measures of academic success. The measures of academic success were graduate grade point average, total number of semesters taken to complete the degree, total number of credits completed by graduation, and the likelihood of completing the master's degree. Data were obtained from the Office of Institutional Research and Planning. This study did not find a relationship between the GMAT and GRE scores and foreign student academic success. There also appeared to be no significant relationship between TOEFL total mean scores and academic success. There was a significant relationship between gender and academic success. Age did not appear to have a significant effect on academic success of foreign students, but there was a relationship between age and academic success for U.S. citizens and permanent residents. A number of differences were found in academic success related to field of study. There appeared to be relationships between students' country of origin and their academic achievement. In addition, a significantly positive effect was found between financial support from the University and academic success. Full-time enrollment also had a positive effect on academic success for permanent residents and U.S. citizens, but no effect on academic success for foreign students. No significant relationship was found between changing majors and academic success. Additional studies are suggested to confirm the findings, and the research methodology should be expanded to include a qualitative approach to further understand factors contributing to foreign student academic success.