Early Assessment of Cognitive Skills, Self-Regulated Learning Skills, and Attitudes Toward Education Predict University Success at Graduation

Cassady et al. / Journal of Postsecondary Student Success / July 2022

Classroom of students on laptops

Considerable research has been conducted on the incremental or individual influences of cognitive skills, self-regulated learning skills, and attitudes toward education on the success of learners in many levels of educational inquiry. In addition, much work has been focused on predicting student success in the first year of college, or examining factors that promote retention only for the second semester or second academic year. This study expands the focus by specifically examining the interactive nature of these three broad domains of student characteristics over the course of the entire students’ experience in higher education. Specifically, this study examines seven years of institutional data exploring the predictive utility of measures of students’ cognitive skills, self-regulated learning skills, attitudes toward education, and academic anxiety prior to the start of their first semester on graduating GPA for anyone completing a degree within 6 years of matriculation. The results demonstrate that while all of the variables were instrumental in explaining overall university success, the best explanation of the data was achieved through a partial moderated mediation model. Furthermore, the data illustrated that the patterns of these relationships for first generation and non-first generation students differed. The results are supportive of a model of early assessment to identify areas of need for learners to promote more adaptive coping strategies at the start of the university experience to support optimal graduation outcomes for both first generation and non-first generation learners.