The Academic Performance And Retention Of College Of Agriculture Students

Bryan L. Garton, Anna L. Ball, James E. Dyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Universities across the nation have established criteria in the selection of students for admission. This correlational study was conducted to determine predictors of academic performance and retention of freshmen in the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources (CAFNR) at the University of Missouri. Freshmen enrolled in a college-wide learning and development course in the Fall of 1997 (n = 245) and 1998 (n = 195) participated. The following admission criteria were investigated as possible predictors of academic performance and retention: ACT examination, high school core grade point average (GPA), and high school class rank. In addition, students' preferred learning styles were investigated as a possible predictor of academic performance and retention. Regression analysis was utilized to account for the variance in students' cumulative GPA at the completion of the freshmen academic year. Stepwise discriminant analysis was performed to build a predictive model that could determine whether a linear combination of learning style, ACT score, high school class rank, and high school core GPA could be used to predict student enrollment status for the fall semester of the sophomore year. Learners preferring a field-independent learning style exhibited a tendency for greater academic performance than did their field-dependent peers in the first year of college. The best predictor of academic performance during the first year of college for 1997 freshmen was a combination of their high school core GPA and ACT score. However, high school core GPA alone was the best predictor of college academic performance for freshmen who began their college career in 1998. Furthermore, learning style was not a predictor of students' academic performance during their first year of enrollment in a college of agriculture. Only the traditional university admission variable of high school core GPA was successful in predicting students' first year cumulative GPA. In the current study, the traditional criteria used for college admission was found to have limited value in predicting agriculture students' retention. The study raises questions regarding the effectiveness of current college admission variables as predictors of agriculture students' academic performance and retention
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-56
JournalJournal of Agricultural Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


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