Year of Publication

2010

College

Martin School of Public Policy and Administration

Executive Summary

The Robinson Scholars Program was created by the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees as an effort to combat historically high rates of poverty and low rates of educational attainment in Kentucky’s Appalachian region. The first class was selected in 1997 and was part of a broader effort to improve community and economic development in eastern Kentucky.

The Robinson Scholars Program provides financial and academic support for potential first-generation college students from the program’s 29-county service area. Scholars are selected in the eighth grade and are provided with enrichment opportunities and college preparation activities throughout their high school careers. Once they enter college, they are provided with academic support and advising services and are required to attend official Robinson Scholar activities and participate in the program’s service projects.

The mission of the program is to help the selected students obtain bachelor’s degrees, so that they may add to the human capital of their own communities. Though the program provides students with a considerable amount of support, the road to a bachelor’s degree often proves to be difficult for these students. A number of scholars are placed on probation from the program during their time at the university and some are even dismissed from the program entirely.

The purpose of this study is to analyze the relationship between student characteristics and the likelihood of a student being placed on probation or being dismissed from the program. The following research questions were investigated:

  • Does a student’s gender make them more or less likely to go on probation or be dismissed from the Robinson Scholars Program?
  • Do ACT scores or amount of funding received from the program influence a student’s probability of probation or dismissal?
  • Are there certain counties in the service area that are more likely to produce students who go on probation or are dismissed?
  • Are students more likely to go on probation during certain semesters in their collegiate careers?

To answer these questions, a panel data set from the entire population of Robinson Scholars was obtained from the program’s administration. Regression equations were estimated to determine the relationship between various student characteristics and the dependent variables of likelihood to be placed on probation and likelihood to be dismissed.

The results showed that gender and composite ACT score significantly affect a student’s likelihood of being placed on probation. Additionally, college experience was found to significantly affect a student’s probability of being placed on probation. There were also four counties of origin which significantly increase a student’s likelihood of being placed on probation. The regression equation for dismissal did not explain much of the variance in student likelihood of being dismissed from the program, suggesting that future research should consider additional factors to explain academic performance among Robinson Scholars.

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