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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Understanding Factors Affecting Degree Attainment and Student Success in Undergraduate Architecture Programs
by Majkowski, Bruce Robert, Ph.D., State University of New York at Buffalo, 2019, 396; 13809507
Abstract (Summary)

Many undergraduate architecture programs have experienced high attrition levels, dating back to the 1940s (McClure, 1948). Despite this longstanding nature, many architecture faculty consider it an indicator of the quality of the program, not a problem to fix (Wiencke, 1994). However, the recession in 2008 had far-reaching effects, greatly reducing the amount of building construction and job prospects for future architects (Rampell, 2012; Whoriskey, 2012), resulting in major reductions in undergraduate architecture program enrollments.

Many states, also reeling from the recession, implemented new funding models linked to enrollment, further exacerbating the problem. Increased scrutiny of limited government funds by politicians, stakeholders, and parents further focused attention on programs where many students did not succeed. In combination, these dynamics encouraged attention on undergraduate architecture programs, with an emphasis on understanding the factors causing attrition, promoting persistence, and encouraging academic success in these programs.

The setting for this study was the University at Buffalo, a large, public research university in the State University of New York System. The study included 2,210 students enrolled at the university in the architecture program from fall 2000 to spring 2013, tracking them for six years as they worked to attain their degrees. The study found that high school GPA was the best pre-enrollment factor for predicting degree attainment and academic performance in architecture for freshmen students, augmented by SAT writing scores. SAT math and verbal/critical reading scores played nearly no role in predicting degree attainment or academic performance. For transfer students, the best predictive pre-enrollment factor was prior college GPA.

Following enrollment, performance in required courses in the first year provided the best predictor of degree attainment and academic performance, accounting for the greatest amount of explained variance across all factors. First-year courses provided the foundation on which the rest of the program built, essentially defining the barrier courses that a student needed to complete for success in the program. In addition to augmenting the limited literature on major-specific persistence, the study provided an improved understanding of relevant admission factors for undergraduate architecture programs, providing a basis to locate students better able to succeed in the major.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Pope, Raechele L.
Commitee: Durand, Henry, Smith, Korydon, Weidemann, Sue
School: State University of New York at Buffalo
Department: Educational Leadership and Policy
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 80/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Higher education
Keywords: Academic performance, Architecture, Degree completion, Persistence, Student success, Undergraduate education
Publication Number: 13809507
ISBN: 978-1-392-26858-2
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