An evaluation of the changes implemented in the Virginia Student Transition Program (VSTP) at George Mason University, 1986-1987

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

George Mason University, with the support of the Virginia State Council of Higher Education, implemented a program in 1983 designed to assist African-American students with their transition from high school to college. The students enrolled in the Virginia Student Transition Program (VSTP) had either low high school GPAs, low Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, or insufficient academic units completed in high school. These students would not have been admitted to the university without participating in the VSTP.

Retention rates for students enrolled in the program failed to reach the level anticipated by the university.

The program was redesigned in 1987 to reflect both a developmental and academic focus by adding academic courses for credit to the developmental program.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the changes in VSTP that were implemented in the VSTP in 1987, and continued to the present. Data collected from the 1986 program participants provided a baseline for understanding the experience of students participating in 1990.

Data for the study were collected from four separate sources: (1) student transcripts, (2) student retention data from George Mason University Institutional Research Office, (3) structured interviews with 1990 VSTP participants, and (4) structured interviews with five peer counselors.

The data were analyzed using a t-test to determine the differences in the mean for first year academic performance and grades earned in mathematic and freshman English for both the 1986 and 1990 program participants. The Pearson Chi Square was used to determine the difference in the means for the persistence rate between the 1986 and 1990 participants. The interview data were analyzed and summarized by coding responses.

The findings indicated no significant differences for academic performance, grades earned in mathematics, and the first year persistence rate. There was a significant difference found in the grades earned in English 101. The interview data suggested that the 1990 VSTP program met its objectives and made a significant contribution to the students' transition to college, their educational development, and ability to persist to graduation.