In the last issue of the DATAWave, students' performance on the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency Writing Scale (CAAP-WS) was compared with performance in English 102 and 104. In this edition, CAAP-WS scores are compared to: grades earned in other classes, students' goals and self ratings on the CIRP freshman survey, demographic variables, motivation and perceived needs for remedial assistance.
Course Performance: Last week it was reported that English 102 (English Composition) and English 104 (English Composition and Research) were statistically significantly correlated (.44 and .40 respectively) with the CAAP-WS, and that these two courses accounted for a statistically significant amount of the total variance in a simple linear regression (.19 and .16 respectively). In addition to this, students who earned grades of "A" in these classes had the highest mean scores on the CAAP-WS. To this writer, these results appeared logical.
The scores did not, however, conclusively demonstrate that enhanced performance on the CAAP-WS was related to learning in English 102 and 104. (None of the analysis performed is designed to show cause and effect.) To increase the understanding of students' CAAP-WS performance, grades on other 100 level courses were investigated. The courses used in this analysis were not randomly chosen, but rather were chosen to allow distribution for various colleges, each enrolling significant numbers of students in comparison to English 102 and 104. The courses included are Psychology 101 (Introduction to Psychology), Sociology 101 (Introductory Sociology), Music 113 (Music Appreciation), and Math 107 (Intermediate Algebra). Table I lists the results of a bivariate correlation of course performance with CAAP-WS, as well as the coefficient of correlation (r2) from a single linear regression, the mean score of those students who achieved letter grades of "A", and the proportion of students who earned a letter grade of "A."
Not surprisingly, Math and Music Performance do not appear to be associated with writing skills. Why then are Psychology and Sociology? In fact PSY 101 and SOC 101 at first appear to better prepare students in writing than do English courses. Do these courses require extensive writing? The answer may be that these classes award proportionally fewer "A" grades, and students who receive high grades may, logically, score higher on an achievement test.
Demographics: Student performances on the CAAP-WS were analyzed by age, gender, ethnicity, high school grade point average (HSGPA) and cumulative grade point average at Eastern (CUMGPA). Traditional age students (18 years of age at matriculation) scored higher on the CAAP-WS than did reentry students (over the age of 23 at matriculation), and 2% of the total variance was accounted for by this variable. As previously reported, on average women scored higher than men (64.01 to 61.82) and gender accounted for 5% of the total variance. White students scored higher than ethnic minority students (12% of the total variance accounted for when students were grouped as either ethnic minority or White). High School and ENMU grade point averages accounted for 3% and 19% of the variance, respectively. (Readers are reminded that each of the simple linear regressions performed were independent, and summing variance scores would not lead to an accurate description of the data.)
Other Variables: Students who had, or felt that they needed, remedial coursework in English and reading were examined. However there were too few of these students for meaningful analysis. The ten students (of 668) whose goals as first time freshmen included to "write original works" averaged 68.5 on the CAAP-WS. Students who rated their overall academic ability and writing skills at above average, scored better than the entire sample of students. The mean CAAP-WS scores were 66.54 and 65.67.
Conclusion: A large amount of data has been summarized in this report. An attempt has been made to report how different variables can be associated with CAAP-WS. In brief, the following variables are most closely associated with students scores on the CAAP-WS (in order): English 102, Psychology 101, CUMGPA, Sociology 101, English 104, Students' self rating of Writing Ability, and Students' self-rating of Academic Ability. (This analysis was conducted through a step-wise analysis of regression).
Not surprisingly, students with a history of above average performance, performed best on the CAAP-WS! As this writer has heard more than one faculty member observe, "good students do well." The reverse, apparently, is also true. Some might propose that the solution lies in recruiting higher achieving students! This writer proposes that the performance of "average" and "below-average" students should be monitored in subsequent administrations of the CAAP, and in anticipation of this cohort's improved performance, the campus can point with pride at their achievement.