Yes, in order to do a fair assessment of SI or other services, you have to
"even out" your populations on something like SAT and/or ACT and/or high
school rank and/or grades/placement in other key courses or some variable
that has meaning for your campus.

But even when the model is followed closely and repeatedly supported in
class by the professors, as it is here, the level of participation is
often quite low.  Let me acknowledge that we are a commuter campus to a
great extent.

And no, of course cost effectiveness is not the most critical factor in
gauging the value of a program, but again, IF the improvements aren't
there (or if motivational issues get in the way of interpreting
improvements) and IF something else shows better results (as defined by
enhanced grades and retention) with greater cost effectiveness (those who
look at cost per contact hour: are you looking only at student wages, or
are you also including the valuable time of your staff in training and
supervision?), I will choose other models of academic support.

Perhaps this haunting motivation issue is at the heart of the problem that
we all face in reviewing our programs--and thus, for some of us,
justifying our existence. Someone chooses to take advantage of program A
and does better.  Well, DUH!!!  That's a no-brainer.  Even looking at
those who say they wanted it (one of the motivational controls the SI
model examines) and didn't/couldn't come, what does that say exactly?
It's human behavior: lots of people say they want something, then
don't/can't/won't follow through, and --no surprise-- end up "lower" in
some way than those who have made their own efforts.

So how do we get at the heart of the matter in interpreting the levels of
effectiveness of our programs?  And if there isn't much solid there so
far, then we need to develop evaluation models that do truthfully and
simply explain to our funders AND clients how well we do what we do.

Perhaps the secret lies in a longer-term view of things. Or maybe we need
to figure out how to determine what might have happened even to the
motivated had no services been in place.  Or maybe........

Too bad, though, that while I'm intrigued by these ideas (obviously--and I
apologize if these comments are much too long for some of you), I still
can't help poor Craig with his plea for info on 4-yr private
quarter-system schools.  Surely there's someone out there who can?


Jan Norton, Director
Center for Academic Support             Phone: (816) 271-4536
Missouri Western State College          Email: [log in to unmask]
4525 Downs Drive                        Fax: (816) 271-4574
St. Joseph, MO  64507