Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


The purpose of this major applied research project was to study the academic performance and persistence (retention) of high school equivalency certificate holders (HSEC) who are students at Bucks County Community College. Major issues considered were the skill level of HSBC students as compared to high school diploma (HSD) holders and the belief that HSEC people were less skilled because of under preparation and, perhaps, their motivation was not as strong. To explore these issues, group grade point averages, graduation rate and retention data were gathered. Other issues include the quantitative impact of the HSEC holder on higher education and that the group is "forgotten" by higher education. Also, that there is no targeting of any defined groups and, therefore, no programs designed to assist them in many collegiate institutions. To obtain information about these issues a survey of practices pertaining to BSEC students in two year colleges was sent to sixteen public community colleges in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Delaware. The graduation rate and group grade point average was computed for both HSEC holders and HSD holders at the college. The key segment of the study vas a Student Success Workshop. Twenty-seven HSEC holders participated in this workshop. Individual counseling sessions for each participant were required in addition to the workshop. Included in the workshop was a pre and post measure, the Learning and Study Skills Inventory (LASSI). Data was analyzed using tabulation, percentages, t-tests, and chi-square. Analysis of the survey data makes it clear that SEC students are a largely forgotten group. Only two colleges, of sixteen, reported programs designed for HSEC students and these were small. The academic performance (as measured by GPA) and graduation rate of HSD holders were found to be significantly higher than that of HSEC holders. This supports the belief that HSEC holders are less skilled, and perhaps, less motivated than USD holders. Effectiveness of the workshop was evaluated by three techniques: the LASSI, a workshop evaluation form, and comments made during the counseling sessions. The pre and posttest means of the ten factor LASSI were found not to be significant. However, the workshop evaluation findings and counseling session information both indicated that important changes in career decision making skills, educational planning procedures, and curricular decision making took place. It is too early to state whether the workshop contributed to retention, although it looks promising. There are several recommendations. First, the practices survey should be revised and administered on either a national or multi-regional basis. Secondly, it is recommended that Bucks County Community College delineate HSEC holders and other target groups. Further, that the college develop an extended orientation course and other programs to serve these target populations. The workshop syllabus and book need revisions particularly to make them more appropriate for adult students. The LASSI should also be adapted for adult students. A clearly effective component of the workshop was the counseling sessions. Future workshops should include these. It is recommended that the Institutional Research Office of Bucks County Community College become involved in tracking this study group and developing research projects involving HSEC students and other target groups. A final recommendation is a call for expanded research in this area at the national level (ACE -GED Office), the state level (departments of education and state universities), and at the local level, individual colleges including Bucks County Community College.

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