Academic And Social Factors Affecting Students Education Essay

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The proposed study will addresses the different factors that cause students to leave college or to remain in school to graduate. The purpose of the study is to examine academic and social factors affecting students' satisfaction with college. The targeted participants are deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing college students. There will be three questionnaires given to the participants through the RIT Clipboard system. The questionnaires are: a demographic survey, the College Adjustment Test (CAT), and the Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA). The study hypothesizes that deaf/hard-of-hearing college students will report having the most difficulties adjusting to college and hearing college students will report having a better adjustment; and deaf/hard-of-hearing students will report using greater support services than hearing students.

Academic and Social Factors Affecting Students' Satisfaction with College

The U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistic reported that more than 68% of 2005 high school graduates go to college within 4 months of graduation (Mattanah et. al, 2010). Generally, almost 50% of the youth in the United States go to college (Lukomski, 2007). While in college, almost 30-40% of college students leave school without getting their degree and many of these students doesn't return to school to complete it (Enochs & Roland, 2006). Evidently, out of 2.4 million students who went to college in 1993, over 1.5 million left college before getting a degree (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). Pritchard and Wilson (2003) reported on a study conducted by Tinto which indicated that nearly 57% of college students would drop out of the first college they attended and that 43% of college students would drop out of college completely and never complete their degree (p.18). Additionally, over 50% of all students leave college in the first 6 weeks (Mattanah et. al, 2010). In fact, over 40% of students don't complete college and it mostly occurs in their first year (Mattanah et. al, 2010). As a result of student dropping out of college, schools pushed for constructive programs to encourage students to stay in school (Witherspoon, Long, & Chubick, 1999). During the first year of college, it is predicted that academic success arises from successful adjustment, and withdrawal from college is associated with adjustment difficulties (Kerr, Johnson, Grans, & Krumrin, 2004). Academic success and adjustment difficulties seem to be associated with support services and social support the students receive while in school. Those students who are well involved in schools and received positive social interaction from their peers seem to adjust well in college. Kersting (1997) noted a study conducted by Pascarella and Terenzini which concluded that the more students interact with their peers and participate in schools activities; the more likely they will want to stay in college (Kersting, 1997). Although college students dropping out is becoming a common issue, it's important that this problem be examine so colleges can come up with a more effective strategies to keep students in school.

The purpose of the study is to examine academic and social factors affecting students' satisfaction with college. The study will addresses the different factors that cause students to leave college or to remain to graduation. One benefit is that the institute or university could use this data to assess current programs and services and to create programs and services to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing students in adjusting well in college. The study will also explore the characteristics of individuals, which indicate what students are most likely and less likely to adjust well in college. The finding is expected to have the potential to influence the institutes to take a step and hopefully improve their support services to help college students to get a more satisfying college experience.

Support Services

Environmental Factor

There were several studies conducted that indicated that students need continuous support services to becomes involved in schools and to improves their overall adjustment. Most college students tend to have a hard time adjusting to college upon their arrival. Those students who have the most difficult time transiting are encourage to participate in activities or join various organizations so they would feel like they are a part of the university community (Enochs & Roland, 2006).

Students who lived in a learning-based environment tend to have a better adjustment than students who lived in other type of environment (Enochs & Roland, 2006). Enochs and Roland (2006) reported on a study conducted by Millings and Mahmood which suggested the center for residence life should host programs to ease the students' stress over life's' concern. It's claimed that first years college students have a better adjustment when placed in residence housing designed specifically for them. A study conducted by Enochs and Roland (2006) examine how the living environment, and gender types can affect freshmen students' overall adjustment and social adjustment in college. The two groups examined were students in freshman housing and traditional residence halls housing (Enochs & Roland, 2006). The overall adjustment and social adjustment were compared across gender and the living environment. Important finding were that regardless of the types of housing, males had a higher level of overall adjustment than females (Enochs & Roland, 2006). The result also indicated that students who live in the Freshmen Experience housing have a higher level of social adjustment than students who live in traditional residence housing (Enochs & Roland, 2006). Living in a residence hall is similar to living with one's own family (Enochs & Roland, 2006). The students' developed an atmosphere of care and concern for other members on the floor and a sense of community (Enochs & Roland, 2006). Resident assistants are the foundation for this development and they serve as a positive figure of authority for the students on the floor and they help create a warm and friendly environment in the dorm (Enochs & Roland, 2006).

A conducted by Witherspoon, Long, and Chubick (1999), hypothesized that students who had dropped out of college would have a lower level of adjustment than students who had successfully continued and graduated. Important findings were that student who had finished college during the 6-quarter follow-up, had scored lower on the Environmental Deprivation Scale (EDS) than those who dropped out of college (Witherspoon, Long, & Chubick, 1999). Other results showed that the less support students receive from their school, the higher the EDS score, which indicated a low level of overall adjustment (Witherspoon, Long, & Chubick, 1999).

The Effectiveness of Support Services:

Many researchers that examine how colleges support programs influence students to stay in school. College support programs provide many types of services such as academic advising, personal counseling, and tutoring, mentoring, assistance with application for graduate school, cultural enrichment programs, and social gatherings (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). Grant-Vallone, Reid, Umali, and Pohlert (2003/2004) reported on a study by Dale and Zych who found that students who participated in the program (HORIZON) were more likely to stay in school than students who didn't participate in the program. Grant-Vallone et. al (2003/2004) also reported on another study conducted by Wilson, Mason, and Ewing which examines students two years after using counseling services, and the results indicated that those who used the service were most likely to remain in school than those students who didn't use the service. One more study noted by Grant-Vallone et. al (2003/2004), Turner and Berry revealed that as a result of using the counseling support service, students with many types of personal problems reported improvement in their academic performances. These students' retention rate was better than those students of the entire school (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004).

Research conducted by Grant-Vallone et. al (2003/2004) examines how students' self-esteem, social support, and participation in support services affect their adjustment and commitment to stay in college. The results indicated that students who have higher self-esteems and more peer support have a better adjustment (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). It's also indicated that students who often used more support services reported high social adjustment (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). Finally, students who were better adjusted to campus life were more likely to stay in school and complete their degree (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). The results from the various studies showed that support services influence students to stay in school.

Social Support

Social support is defined as "the existence or availability of people on whom we can rely, people who let us know that they care about, value, and love us" (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004, p.257). Social support in college is potentially helpful to students for two main reasons (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). One reason is that social supports reduce stress, anxiety and enhance well-being (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003/2004). Another reason is that social supports have the potential to help in coping to stressful situations (Grant-Vallone et. al, 2003). A study noted by Grant-Vallone et. al (2003/2004), Milem and Berger found that high levels of social interaction predicted students' intent to stay in school or return to school once they dropped out.

Researchers' results indicated that social support intervention lead to greater social life satisfaction among college students. Mattanah et. al (2010) reported on a study by Oppenhimer which found that students who participated in social support interventions reported greater social life satisfaction, increased self-esteem, and decreased social anxiety. Another study reported by Mattanah et. al (2010), Lamothe et. al indicated that the students who participated in social support interventions reported greater social support than students who didn't participated in social support interventions. One more study reported, Pratt et. al found that male and female in the intervention group reported more satisfying social adjustment than the control group (Mattanah et. al, 2010).

Researchers demonstrated that peer-led supports programs help improve students' academic performance and social adjustment. Peer advisors help first year students adjust to college by discussing common issues among college students such as drug and alcohol abuse (Mattanah et. al, 2010). This type of peer intervention is an alternative to going to the counseling center (Mattanah et. al, 2010). Mattanah, Brooks, Ayers, Quimby, Brand, & McNary (2010) examine the effects of a peer-led social support group intervention on college adjustment. The researchers hypothesized that social support intervention would lead to greater college adjustment, greater perceived social support, and less loneliness (Mattanah et. al, 2010). The results revealed that students in the intervention groups reported less loneliness and greater perceived social support than students in the control group (Mattanah et. al, 2010). The study made a suggestion for more intervention programs that can help prevent students' from dropping out during their first year of college.

Faculty-Student Relationship

Students who model themselves after their teachers rather than their friends reported higher level of overall adjustment (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). Informal interaction with faculty members about issues of high intellect, are associated with the student motivation to pursue a higher education (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). These students look up to their teachers for guidance and support; and the potential benefits that the students gain is a greater satisfaction with academic life (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). Students who encountered positive interaction with their teachers often reported learning a lot in school and a greater satisfaction with being in college (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). As a result of this interaction, these students are less likely to drop out of college (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010).

A study by Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya (2010) examines the relationship between the different aspects of student-faculty interaction and students' motivation, and achievement; and they also examines the relationship between students' negative experience student-faculty interaction and their lack of motivation. The results showed that students who viewed their professors as being easy to approach, respectful, and available for them outside the classroom, are more likely to report being more motivated and confident in their academic skills (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). Other results showed that students who are able to have an informal discussion with faculty members seem to find learning enjoyable and they gain a better understanding of how college can prepare them for the real world (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010). An opposing results to this showed that students who viewed their faculty members as being less caring reported feeling discouraged (Komarraju, Musulkin, & Bhattacharya, 2010).

Deaf Students in College

There were many studies that examine college adjustment in a general parameter. However, how does college adjustment differ from Deaf/Hard-of-hearing and hearing college students. Approximately 45% of students with a hearing loss attend college (Lukomski, 2007). Compared to their hearing counterpart, deaf and hard-of-hearing adjust differently to college; both socially and emotionally. There are several studies that examine social-emotional adjustment among deaf and hard-of-hearing students; and the results showed that deaf and hard-of-hearing students tend to have the most difficulties adjusting to college than the hearing students.

There are many important factors that could play a role in their experience of being in college. A study conducted by Carol De Filippo (2004) examined the quality of life of deaf and hard-of-hearing college students at the National Technical Institute of Technology. De Filippo (2004) defined quality of life as "an area of non-academic influence to which college programs can contribute significantly" (p.12). She noticed that nonacademic factors can affect the students' quality of life such as their sense of belonging and community. She surveyed and interviewed first year deaf and hard-of-hearing and hearing college students. The students were asked to describe their quality of life which consisted of life domains grouped as community well-being, overall life satisfaction, social well-being, and physical well-being (De Filippo, 2004).

According to the result of the study, the most satisfying domain was community well-being and overall life satisfaction which come in second (De Filippo, 2004). This domain refers to students' attitude toward their community and the respects for others living within it (De Filippo, 2004). The second highest level of satisfaction refers to the students' life satisfactions which include education, health, and social relationship (De Filippo, 2004). However, social well-being, academic well-being, and psychological well-being presented lower level of satisfaction compared to the first two highest (De Filippo, 2004). The social well-being domain refers to the students' social relationship including how easy they make friends, do they take advantage of opportunities, do they feel the people around them cared about them, or do they feel comfortable being on campus…etc. (De Filippo, 2004). The academic well-being domain refers to the students' satisfaction with their academic performances, teaching methods by the professors in the classroom, tutoring and advising services (De Filippo, 2004). The psychological well-being refers to the students' emotional and intellectual stability in managing their life (De Filippo, 2004). The domain that has the lowest satisfaction was physical well-being (De Filippo, 2004). This domain refers to the students' satisfaction with physical exercise, quiet time, sleep, nutrition, and overall health (De Filippo, 2004). De Filippo (2004) implicated that college programs can help the students a sense of community and personal development.

A study conducted by Lukomski (2007) conducted a study that examined social-emotional adjustment among Deaf college students. The study examined differences between deaf and hearing students' perceptions of their social emotional adjustment as they transit to college. Lukomski (2007) hypothesized that deaf college students has higher social-emotional adjustment issue than hearing college students. Another area that Lukomski (2007) examined was whether social-emotional adjustment is the same for both deaf/hard-of-hearing and hearing college students. The results revealed that deaf students reported experiencing greater home life difficulties than hearing students (Lukomski, 2007). Also, deaf students reported having fewer coping difficulties than hearing students (Lukomski, 2007). The results also revealed that deaf female females reported having higher level of worry than deaf males, hearing females, and hearing males (Lukomski, 2007). Lukomski (2007) concluded that there are differences in adjustment between deaf and hearing students.

A study conducted by Kersting (1997) examines social interaction of oral deaf students. The researcher used an open-ended interview which the students were asked to describe their college experiences based on orientation programs attended and their social relationship on campus (Kersting, 1997). Then the students were asked to discuss the social activities they participated in and how they feel about their classes (Kersting, 1997). The result indicated that during the students' first year of college, they experience loneliness and isolation which is caused by rejection from deaf peers and discrimination from hearing peers (Kersting, 1997). The reason the students feel like they don't fit in with the deaf community is their lack of signing skills and their unfamiliarity with deaf culture, and some of these students receive negative responses from their deaf peer when they attempted to interact with them (Kersting, 1997). Also, the reason these students experience separation from their hearing peers is because of physical factors such as classroom setting and residential environment (Kersting, 1997). For instance, one student reported feeling that when they're in a mainstreamed classroom, they are situationally assigned to the front of the class and away from the hearing peers but with the other deaf students (Kersting, 1997). Deaf and hard-of-hearing students are assigned to housing designed specifically for deaf (Kersting, 1997). Oral deaf students encounter discrimination from their hearing peers because of stereotypes that associate with deaf culture (Kersting, 1997). To prevent themselves from dropping out, they seek alternative solutions to their sense of loneliness. They befriended other oral deaf students, counselors, employees from the Access Services, and communicating with family members on a weekly basis (Kersting, 1997). Despite not fitting in, these students developed relationship with their deaf and hearing peers in their later years. As the years progress, oral deaf students improve their skill in signing and develop strong relationship with their deaf peers (Kersting, 1997). Also, they participate in clubs and organization so they can interact with their hearing peers which seem to be effective for most oral deaf students (Kersting, 1997).

A study conducted by Stinson, Whitmire, and Kluwin (1996) examines self-perceptions of social interaction in hearing-impaired adolescents. The results revealed that hearing-impaired students, who attended more mainstreamed classes, interacted with hearing student than other hearing-impaired students (Stinson, Whitmire, & Kluwin, 1996). However, the author mentioned a contradicting result that while attending mainstreaming classes, hearing-impaired student interacted more with other hearing-impaired than hearing student (Stinson, Whitmire, & Kluwin, 1996, p.140). The factor responsible for this result was that in some mainstream schools, some hearing-impaired students are attending mainstreaming classes' together (Stinson, Whitmire, & Kluwin, 1996). For emotional security and perceived social competence, the student who attended more mainstreamed classes reported less interaction with their hearing-impaired peers, however, emotional security with these peer are higher compared to their hearing-peers (Stinson, Whitmire, & Kluwin, 1996).

The study hypothesize that deaf/hard-of-hearing college student will report having the most difficulties adjusting to college and hearing college student will report having a better adjustment. Also, I hypothesize that deaf/hard-of-hearing students will report using greater support services than hearing students.



At least 60 deaf, hard-of-hearing and hearing college students who are enrolled in Psychology courses will be recruited through the Psychology Department SONA participant management system. Hearing students will serve as a comparison group to assess whether or not their adjustment to college follows a similar or different pattern than the deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

Materials and Measures

In addition to the consent form (See Appendix A), the participants will be asked to complete the following measures:

Demographic Questionnaire. The study will use a demographic survey that asked the participants their year level, age, and gender. The survey will ask the participants whether they are deaf, hard-of-hearing or hearing college students. Furthermore, the survey will ask the participants to check any support services that they used while in college from a list on the survey. Also, the study will ask participants if they join any campus organizations or participated in any recreational activities. The demographic questionnaire will be used to measure students' satisfaction and the support services they used to get a better understanding of how using support services can affect student's persistence in college.

College Adjustment Test (CAT). The CAT is a 19-item survey that assesses the students' thoughts and feelings about being to college prior to a week of taking the test (Pennebaker, Colder, & Sharp, 1990). Pennebaker, Colder, & Sharp (1990) reported acceptable internal consistency of .70. "Two-month test-retest with 196 introductory college students was good, r = .65" (Pennebaker, Colder, & Sharp, 1990, p.532). The test developers used factor analysis procedures to determine that the test yields three distinct aspects of adjustment --general negative affect about coming to college, positive affect or optimism, and home sickness (Pennebaker, Colder, & Sharp, 1990).

Inventory of Parent and Peer Attachment (IPPA). The IPPA is a self-report questionnaire developed by Dr. Gay Armsden and Dr. Mark Greenberg that evaluates the students' perceptions of their attachment relationships with parents and peers. The revised version of this instrument includes separate scales for assessing the student's trust, communication and anger or alienation in their relationships with their mother, father, or peers (Armsden & Greenbergs, 2009). This study will only use the Peer Attachment Scale.


First, the participants will complete the online informed consent form. Once the participants agree to participate in the study, they will continue on to the demographic questionnaire and then afterward, the (CAT) and the (IPPA).