A model of academic enablers and academic performance among postsecondary learners

Open Access
Kuterbach, James Michael
Graduate Program:
Educational Theory and Policy
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
October 29, 2012
Committee Members:
  • David P Baker, Dissertation Advisor
  • David P Baker, Committee Chair
  • Katerina Bodovski, Committee Member
  • Robert James Stevens, Committee Member
  • Liang Zhang, Committee Member
  • academic enablers
  • academic performance
  • postsecondary
  • higher education
The purpose of this study was to determine the most important factors in predicting academic outcomes at the post-secondary level. With an increasing number of students attending college and the spiraling costs of post-secondary education there is a greater need, now more than ever, to discern the most important factors in positive academic outcomes for students. While past research has examined many important variables, the majority of those variables are not amenable to interventions. This research examined several such variables, based on the model of academic competence developed by DiPerna, Volpe, and Elliott in 2002. These include self-efficacy, motivation, study-skills, and academic engagement, together with student ability and reading comprehension, as predictors of academic performance. Data was collected from 252 undergraduate students in an introductory educational psychology class. The participants completed a 1-minute maze probe, the General Self-Efficacy scale, and the Academic Competence Evaluation Scales-College. The academic performance measure was students’ final grades in the class and student ability was measured via the SAT Reasoning Test scores. Twelve models were tested using ordinary least squares regression in order to determine the strength of the proposed variables. The resulting data demonstrated that the best predictors were study skills, motivation, and reading comprehension; however, because study skills and motivation were highly correlated, and because the strength of the relationship between grades and study skills was no longer significant once motivation was included, the final model included only motivation and reading comprehension. Limitations with both the hypothesis and the design are discussed, as are possibilities for future research.