Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Kenneth E. Dickie

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Brinkerhoff

Third Advisor

Dr. Howard Poole


This study examines students with diagnosed writing deficiencies who persisted (Group II, n = 350) and provided evidence of mastery of the subject matter in a "Mastery Learning" remedial English course designed after the Keller plan of Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Their subsequent achievement on three criterion variables--Grade in Freshman Writing, Total Credit Hours Earned over a Two Year Period, and Overall Grade Point Average--is compared with achievement of three other groups. Group I (Placed Out, n = 84) consists of students with superior placement test scores who enrolled in Freshman Writing without remedial instruction; Group IV (Opted Out, n = 34) consists of students with unsatisfactory placement exam scores but who also opted to attempt Freshman Writing without remedial instruction; finally, Group III (n = 312) consists of students with diagnosed writing deficiencies who enrolled in the remedial English course but who quit before demonstrating mastery of the subject matter.

Demographic data were gathered on all 780 subjects in addition to placement exam scores and achievement measures. Two-way ANOVA tables were generated to analyze effects of combinations of independent variables on the three criterion variables, and step-wise multiple regression formulas were produced to analyze the extent of contribution various independent variables made on the dependent variables.

Statistically significant differences were observed between persisters and nonpersisters on all criterion variables. Persisters were found to perform on a par with students in Group I and to outperform students in Group IV although to only a small extent. Persistence in the remedial English course was found to be a powerful predictor of success in subsequent achievement at Kalamazoo Valley Community College; nonpersistence, an equally powerful predictor of failure. Even though conclusions about the effects of mastery learning remedial English are tentative because of the unknown extent of influence of such unmeasured and nonintellective characteristics as students' motivation and drive, positive evidence of the effects of the method does appear in the study. Further course design efforts need to be expended to determine what if any modifications need to be made in the units of the program that students first encounter that may lead to their nonpersistence. Finally, the administration of Kalamazoo Valley Community College should be encouraged to support further research to determine if noncognitive, affective programs might be designed to increase that population's persistence. (Abstract shortened with permission of author.)

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access