Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Richard W. Malott

Second Advisor

Dr. Dale Brethower

Third Advisor

Dr. David Lyon

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of procedures designed to reduce student attrition. The contingency-management approach was presented as an alternative to other approaches which assume student attrition to be a function of personality differences, study-skills deficiencies, and ecological deficits. Forty undergraduate students on academic probation were referred to the Self-Management Course offered by the Psychology Department at western Michigan University. The Self- Management Course was designed to deliver behavioral consequences for study behavior more immediately than is normally the case. Students taking the Self-Management Course completed several worksheets, participated in group discussions, and attended a study center. The experimental students outperformed the control students on all relevant measures. The improvement in GPA during the course was statistically significant for the experimental but not for the control students; and, the grade point average for the semester was statistically significantly higher for the experimental group.

Several recommendations were given for improving the Self-Managanent Course. These recommendations included (a) improving staff and student feedback, (b) improving instructional materials, (c) reducing the staffto- student ratio, and (d) it was reccnmended that the experimenters reinforce the production of academic accomplishments and not mere student compliance. It is believed that these recommendations might contribute to the improvement of the Self-Management Course so that it will consistently raise the GPAs of probationary students.