T8-MD-4 - WIP: Undergraduate Academic Probation First Semester and Subsequent Academic Performance

3. Research Work In Progress
Lisa Lampe1, 2
1 University of Virginia, School of Engineering and Applied Science
2 University of Virginia, Curry School of Education and Human Development

     This Works-in-Progress research explored academic probation inequity among undergraduate engineers.  This study builds off the descriptive research, detailing the gradual increase in academic probation standards through increasing the cut off point in semester grade point average (GPA) across nine institutions with engineering programs [1]. We also know from a state-wide study in Oklahoma that a disproportionate percentage of Black students were put on probation following an increase in standards over a three-year period, 1990-1993 [2]. Accordingly, I posed the research question of whether increasing academic probation standards differentially impacted minoritized student outcomes such as academic performance the following semester.

      My framework to dissect any academic probation differential impact on minoritized populations was based on Eccles’ (1983) Expectancy-Value Theory (EVT) [3]. My multi-level modeling study, utilizing the Multi-Institutional Database for the Investigation of Engineering Development (MIDFIELD), included 19 institutions with engineering undergraduate programs and analyzed the relationship between first semester probation and non-probation students and subsequent performance after probation (EVT’s socializer’s beliefs and behaviors), controlling for student sex/ethnicity (EVT’s cultural milieu) and past performance (EVT’s achievement-related past experience). One important finding was Black males not put on probation with the same first semester grade point average (GPA) did subsequently better than Black males put on probation.

      My recommendations were rooted in EVT and followed the recommendations of Critical Race Theory (CRT) experts who expect more research to utilize the critical paradigm, especially in quantitative research [4-5].  I critique institutional power and policies themselves and avoided placing blame on minoritized student groups as ill-prepared or requiring remediation. Administrators should consider placing substantial time and effort addressing stereotype threat and continue to research the subgroups differentially impacted at their own institution over time. 

Keywords--academic policies, quantitative methodology, critical theory, academic probation