A comparative study between non-traditional and traditional students in terms of their demographics, attitudes, behavior and educational performance.
As undergraduate student populations evolve, universities need to adapt support systems and design programs to attract and retain eligible students and meet their needs as they strive toward a degree or certification. The size of the non-traditional student population is on the increase. These students have a variety of characteristics such as being over 24 years of age, working full time, and often having dependents to support. Many non-traditional students attend college part time. Between 1996 and 2006, the number of non-traditional undergraduate college students increased at a rate of 30% to 50% (Bye, Pushkar, & Conway, 2007). The National Center for Education reports that 73% of all students have some characteristics of the nontraditional student (Compton, Cox, & Laanan, 2006). These students bring with them desires and needs that are different from their traditional counterparts on campus. The shifting campus population toward non-traditional students necessitates that colleges and universities understand and adapt to these changing student needs in order to improve student satisfaction and involvement with the college experience and their persistence toward degree attainment.
While the demographic characteristics of the non-traditional student are reasonably well-understood, their attitudes about college life and the institutions they attend have not been as thoroughly researched. Take, for example, a hypothetical institution that is slow to recognize their growing non-traditional student base, and thus does not appropriately modify its offerings, policies and procedures to better meet the needs of their growing non-traditional student base. One might reasonably expect that the non-traditional students would be, at a minimum, inconvenienced, and, at times, disadvantaged relative to their traditional counterparts. This would result in coping behaviors and negative attitudes about the institution and the college experience on the part of the non-traditional students. It might also result in non-traditional students achieving academic results (i.e., grade point average) which are inferior to their traditional counterparts.
The purpose of this study is to examine the differences between non-traditional and traditional students with regard to attitudes, behaviors and academic outcomes. A projectable survey was conducted at a 4-year southwestern university. Students were asked about such attitudinal issues as motivation for attending college, degrees of involvement in college-sponsored activities, school/work life balance and feelings of academic stress. In addition, coping behaviors are investigated. Finally, key outcome measures such as satisfaction with the college experience and grade point average are examined. It is hoped that the findings of this research will contribute to the expanding body of work related to non-traditional students, and provide guidance to administrators and educators alike in order to better meet the needs of their constituencies.
Research on non-traditional students generally defines them as those who have not followed a continuous educational path into college. Consequently, they tend to be typically older than traditional students (Evelyn, 2002). Mature students tend to be more diverse than younger students in their expectations of the college or university, in their motivations for attending, and their experiences with higher education (Compton et al, 2006). Adult students have had experiences in life and in their careers that have broadened their general outlook. Over the past fifty years, U.S. employment has gradually shifted from manufacturing blue-collar oriented jobs to white-collared service related professions, bringing more adults to institutions of higher education to allow them to be prepared for career adjustments.
A large number of non-traditional students are females returning to school after family constraints were reduced or who were in a transitional stage of their life (Carney-Compton & Tan, 2002). Reasons for female non-traditional enrollment include career concerns, family needs, and a desire for self-improvement (Bauman et al, 2004). For both male and female nontraditional students, personal growth and self-improvement were of equal importance to career goals, financial opportunities, or societal expectations (Bye et al, 2007). The recent downturn of the U.S. economy is making jobs less stable which is causing employees to reorient their careers and is bringing about an increased importance of education on job attainment (Sweet & Moen, 2007). Only a few other nations accept mature students returning to higher education the way the U.S. does (Taniguchi & Kaufman, 2005).
As would be expected from their age, the most common characteristic of non-traditional students is that they are generally more financially independent (Evelyn, 2002), while traditional students are more apt to rely on their parents for assistance. As a result, non-traditional students utilize their personal savings or employer support to pay for college tuition and related expenses (Ashburn, 2007). In addition to those who receive employer support, studies confirm that almost one-quarter of these students receives financial aid of some kind (Berker, Horn & Carroll, 2003). Non-traditional students who plan for the additional financial responsibility associated with their continuing education are more likely to succeed. A lack of financial skills can result in withdrawal from higher education pursuits for older students because of their additional financial burdens (Hart, 2003).
Statistics indicate that many students who postpone their enrollment into colleges or universities are married and have dependents (Leonard, 2002). Some special programs for nontraditional students include university networking with the community to help with problem-solving daycare issues, housing, transportation and other impediments to perseverance (Lutes, 2004). Other programs include loaner textbooks, tutoring, and coaching (Martinez & Martinez, 2005). Returning to school is an added obligation that impacts family interaction. Some couples report a renegotiating of the household division of labor and childcare to accommodate changes in schedules and workloads (Sweet & Moen, 2007).
It has been suggested that, even though non-traditional students are more apt to work full time, these students are not affected by working, commuting, or time limitations because they have more experience at time management (Lundberg, 2003). However, recent research has suggested that work stressors may play a greater role than personal or academic stressors for non-traditional students (Giancola, Grawitch, & Borchert, 2009) Working full time limits the amount of time available for non-traditional students to interact with fellow students on campus; however, it is proposed that students discuss ideas and obtain some of their education in the workplace. Many non-traditional students report having off-campus peers with whom they can discuss education-related ideas (Lundberg, 2004). Finally, relative to traditional students, nontraditional students do not tend to take advantage of more academic and social services which may be provided by the institution (Keith, 2007)
Non-traditional students have stronger relationships with administrators and place a greater value on faculty interaction than their traditional equivalent (Lundberg, 2003). They prefer discussion as a learning style and are less interested in getting socially involved. They are also more independent and self-directed than the younger students (Wei, 2007). Non-traditional students have a wealth of academic, career, and life experiences that add a dimension to the intellectual and social diversity on campus (University of Minnesota, Advisory Committee for Adult Learners and Student Parents, 2000). To help better understand the issues, concerns, and needs of non-traditional students, a study was conducted at a southwestern 4-year university with a significant proportion of non-traditional students.
To facilitate the development of the survey instrument, a focus group was conducted with a convenience sample of non-traditional students. The results of the focus group clearly demonstrated that the needs of non-traditional students may be significantly different from those of traditional students.
The Survey Instrument
The instrument developed for the study was a self-administered, structured, and undisguised questionnaire. Besides the fact that this type of instrument is the fastest, least expensive, and most popular (Aldreck & Settle, 2004), our primary motivation for selecting this form of instrument was that it was the most appropriate methodology (given our sampling frame, targeted sample size, time frame, etc). A copy of the Survey can be found in Appendix B.
Recognizing the fact that the instrument was meant to measure ideas and concepts that are abstract and non-observable, extra care was taken in designing the questionnaire in terms of proper phrasing of the questions, and a neat layout of the various sections. Face validity was conducted with three researchers in the Marketing Department. A pilot study was conducted with a sample of the population to determine the accuracy of instructions, the best wording of the questions, the appropriateness of scales, etc. Since the topic under investigation was somewhat sensitive, extra care was taken to eliminate any ambiguity in the questionnaire. Seven-point Likert scales were used extensively to assess the following:
1) Student attitudes, opinions, and reasons for being in a university,
2) Their level of involvement and participation in various university activities,
3) Their attitudes toward their work (if they did not work, they could skip this section),
4) Their social life and relationships with various reference group members,
5) Their general opinions about attending and selecting their university,
6) Their time management strategies,
7) Their attitude toward stress, and
8) Their stress coping strategies.
Approximately 3-4 items were developed to represent each construct under investigation. Nominal to ratio scales were used to obtain classification information. The survey took between 10 and 12 minutes to complete. To encourage participation from respondents, all completed responses were eligible to participate in a random drawing.
Non-traditional status has been operationalized a number of different ways in the preceding research. One commonality of all definitions is the requirement that the student be over the age of 24. Some researchers have added other requirements, such as marital status, presence of children or dependents, and work status. For purposes of this research, "non-traditional" was operationalized simply as over 24 years of age. Of the overall ending sample of 452 respondents, 89 are classified as "non-traditional"
Sampling and Data Collection
The study was conducted among a projectable sample of the student population at a mid-sized southwestern 4-year university. The general demographic of the students attending this university include:
Gender: Males=41% and Females=59%
Ethnicity: Whites=71%, African-Americans=14%, Hispanics=12%, and Others=3%, and
Years in School: Freshmen=23%, Sophomores=19%, Juniors=20%, Seniors=23%, and Others=15%
In order to create the ability to generalize the responses and to eliminate any type of bias in the responses, students of an undergraduate marketing research course were trained to obtain 5 completed surveys each. To ensure accuracy of data collection and completion, 5% of each student's course grade was tied into this process. A stratified sampling plan was deployed, with strata controlling for both year in school (i.e., freshman, sophomore, etc.) and college attending (College of Business Administration, College of Education, etc.). The ending sample was found to represent student population as a whole with a margin of error of [+ or -] 4.5%. The validity of the sample was examined by a Chi-square goodness-of-fit test where the sample was compared to the population of the institution on key demographic variables. All Chi-squares were determined to be non-significant at the 0.05 level. This is an indicator that the sample is projectable to the population under study.
The items in the survey were developed based upon the literature review, focus groups, and the special circumstances of the institution where the research was conducted (Churchill & Brown, 2007). For each construct, correlations between the items were examined to determine if further inclusion of each item was warranted. Following the deletion of spurious items, confirmatory factor analysis was conducted for each construct utilizing principal components with Varimax rotation. Factors with Eigen values greater than 1 were retained. Since this was primarily an exploratory study, a minimum factor loading of 0.30 (Nunnally, 1978) was used as a guideline for including items in a factor. The reliability of each factor was evaluated utilizing an internal consistency measure. Factors with Cronbach Alpha less than 0.70 were not used for the analysis. Rather, the analysis was performed utilizing individual items.
Many earlier studies have reviewed the characteristics of non-traditional students (Bye, et al, 2007; Leonard, 2002; Berker, et al, 2003; Carney-Crompton & Tan, 2002; Choy, 2002; Evelyn, 2002; Sweet & Moen, 2007: Lundberg, 2003; Lundberg, 2004). In this research, we sought to establish whether non-traditional students today are significantly diverse from traditional students. To a degree because of their part-time status, non-traditional students spend a longer period of time working toward degree attainment. Non-traditional students who intend to earn a bachelor's degree are less apt than traditional students to have accomplished that goal within six years (Berker et al, 2003). Thus, the first four hypotheses are as follows:
Hypothesis 1: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with regard to being married or living with a significant other.
Hypothesis 2: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to being a commuter student.
Hypothesis 3: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to number of hours worked per week.
Hypothesis 4: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the number of years spent in college.
Differences between traditional and non-traditional students suggest that they will have different expectations of their experiences with higher education institutions. Non-traditional students have a high level of desire for developing as a person and for preparing for career goals (Chao & Good, 2004). Attitudes toward academic difficulties will differ between traditional and non-traditional students, with traditional students more likely to report having trouble with academics. Time spent studying explains a variation in academic success (Nonis & Hudson, 2006). Adult students are projected to participate less in school activities, campus social events, and be less involved with fellow students and faculty, although adult students are affected positively by social and academic integration variables (Lundberg, 2003). Thus, the next four hypotheses are as follows:
Hypothesis 5: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to their desire to utilize the college experience to develop as a person and prepare for the future.
Hypothesis 6: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to having academic difficulties in college.
Hypothesis 7: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to their level of involvement in various college social activities.
Hypothesis 8: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to concern about having a good time in college.
The hypotheses posed thus far measure the disparity between non-traditional and traditional students' life styles and years in college along with their reported expectations and experiences with the college environment. The variations between the two groups of students steers one toward the belief that, for traditional and non-traditional students, there is a variation in grade point average, level of stress, and overall satisfaction with the college experience. With the factors defining non-traditional students, they are placed on a gamut from "minimal risk" to "ultrahigh risk" for persistence toward their degree or certificate (Ashburn, 2007). Nontraditional students are presented with stressful situations more often during their higher education endeavors because of their work, social, and domestic situations along with additional time constraints and less involvement in the campus life. Thus, the three hypotheses dealing with key outcome variables are as follows:
Hypothesis 9: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to grade point average (GPA).
Hypothesis 10: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the level of stress they experience as a result of attending college.
Hypothesis 11: There is no difference between non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the level of satisfaction with the college experience.
The first hypotheses addressed students' marital status. Of the 184 non-traditional students, 49.4% recorded their status as married or living with a partner. Only 13.7% of the traditional students noted that they were married or living with a partner. Thus the null hypothesis is rejected. (See Table 1 for the cross-tabular results and resulting Chi-square).
The next three hypotheses have to do with students' status related to commuting, working full-time, and years in college. The second hypothesis, which was related to commuter status, was rejected. A simple cross-tab shows that 60.7% of non-traditional students commuted a greater distance than five miles while only 34.7% of traditional had an equal commute. The Chi-square is significant. Thus, non-traditional students are more likely than traditional students to commute to school. (See Table 2 for the cross-tabular results and resulting Chi-square)
The number of hours worked per week for non-traditional students was compared to that of traditional students. A Chi-square test shows that, while the results point directionally toward non-traditional students working more hours per week, there is not a significant difference in the number of hours non-traditional students tend to work per week relative to traditional students. Thus, the null hypothesis #3 is accepted. (See Table 3 for the cross-tabular results and resulting Chi-square)
The hypothesis that non-traditional students spend the same number of years in college relative to traditional students is rejected. With 67.8% of non-traditional students taking five or more years to obtain an undergraduate degree, relative to a proportion of 11.3% for traditional students, the Chi-square proves statistically significant. (See Table 4 for the cross-tabular results and resulting Chi-square).
Hypotheses dealing with students' expectations, academic difficulties, involvement, and time spent on campus and participating in social activities are also tested. A more elaborate description of the factors utilized, as well as the Cronbach alphas related to these factors, can be found in Appendix A.
Relative to Hypothesis 5, there is a difference between the non-traditional student and the traditional students' expectations for personal development and preparation for career goals. On a 7-point scale, the mean expectation level was 6.1694 for traditional and 5.9026 for nontraditional students. That is, traditional students are more prone to consider college as a time to develop as a person and prepare for the future. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected
Hypothesis 6 focused on student attitudes regarding trouble with academics. There is a significant difference between the non-traditional student and the traditional students' reporting of trouble with academics. The mean attitudinal level was 3.7740 for traditional and 3.2978 for non-traditional students. That is, traditional students are more prone to report having difficulty with the academic challenges of college life. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected.
Hypothesis 7 investigated the propensity to participate in college-sponsored activities. Relative to this factor, non-traditional students' average response was 3.0985. The traditional student reported an average response of 4.1154. This shows that non-traditional students are less interested than traditional students in social events on campus. The null hypothesis is rejected.
Hypothesis 8 focused on students' interest in having a good time and making money while at college. Non-traditional students are less concerned about having a good time in college than traditional students. The mean importance level of having a good time at school was 5.0956 for traditional and 4.1236 for non-traditional students. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected. See Table 5 for a summary of the results of the means testing related to hypotheses 5-8.
Hypotheses dealing with key outcome measures are also tested. These include GPA 9grade point average), Overall levels of stress experienced, and overall satisfaction with the college experience. A more elaborate description of the factors utilized, as well as the Cronbach alphas related to these factors, can be found in Appendix A.
The outcome of the test for overall grade point average finds the differences between non-traditional students and traditional students to be statistically significant. The mean GPA (on a 4-point scale) was 3.3722 for traditional and 3.5862 for non-traditional students. Thus, the null hypothesis is rejected.
Stress and satisfaction were not statistically different between non-traditional students and traditional students. Table 6 shows that there is no difference in overall stress and overall satisfaction between non-traditional and traditional students. Thus, the null hypotheses for H10 and H11 are accepted.
Table 7 summarizes the results of our hypotheses. Relative to demographic factors, it shows that non-traditional students are more apt to be married or living with a significant other and are more apt to be commuter students. Interestingly, they do not tend to be working appreciably more hours than traditional students. Finally, non-traditional students spend more years in college than traditional students.
When one considers attitudes and behaviors, non-traditional students have different expectations for their college experience as it relates to having a good time, as well as utilizing college for personal development and preparation for careers. This is not surprising, given that non-traditional students are more likely to come to college with an existing career and with their lives already "developed". Non-traditional students are less likely to report having academic difficulties. Table 7 also shows that non-traditional students are less likely to participate in social activities.
Finally, with regard to key outcome measures, there is a difference in overall grade point average, but stress and student satisfaction were not significantly different between nontraditional students and traditional students.
Preceding research might lead one to believe that a non-traditional student would experience more stress and display less satisfaction with the university experience. Our study, however, proved that this is not true. There is no significant difference between a non-traditional student's overall stress and satisfaction with the institution than that of a traditional student. There are several factors that could have led to these results.
While it was expected that non-traditional students are working more hours than traditional students, our study found this not to be the case. Research shows that working does not have a negative effect on learning (grade point average), but also shows that working hinders involvement, which has a positive effect on learning (Lundberg, 2004). Because we found that non-traditional students are less involved, we have to questions why their satisfaction level with the college experience would not be lower than that for a traditional student. There are three thoughts that attempt to explain these somewhat surprising findings. One is that non-traditional students are perhaps more self-sufficient than traditional students. They are dealing with different factors than the traditional student, namely multiple life roles and a support group that doesn't understand the demands of college and the stress created by being a student. These factors would lead to the conclusion that non-traditional students are quite capable of adjusting to factors in their environment. Unfortunately, this aspect of non-traditional student behavior was not examined in the current study.
The second potential explanation is that non-traditional students are possibly living very similar lives to traditional students. From our study, we know that traditional students are working, just not as much. Non-traditional students are more likely to work full-time and attend class part-time (Berker et all, 2003). Traditional students spend their time inversely by attending class full time and working part-time. The only difference is the balance between how many hours in school verses how many hours at work. In other words, non-traditional and traditional students devote approximately the same number of total hours working and going to school. The lifestyles of non-traditional and traditional students are not that disparate and, thus, do not have major differences in their level of satisfaction with the college experience.
A third possible explanation is simply a matter of expectations vs. reality. Non-traditional students don't anticipate special recognition in their college experience. They are aware of the reality that they no longer fit in the traditional student role and do not have great expectations that the college will have special programs to assist with the non-traditional students' academic goals.
LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH
Future research is needed to better understand the balance of work lives and school for both non-traditional and traditional students. It is difficult for universities to implement campus activities and programs when they don't fully understand the lives of either group. Students, in theory, are sharing much of the same burden of work and school commitments and have less time for school functions. Perhaps research should be done on why non-traditional students and traditional students share the same stress, and have essentially the same levels of satisfaction with the university.
Research has shown that some universities are developing a framework and assessment tool to evaluate their effectiveness in serving non-traditional students (Compton et al, 2006). In fact, some universities are specifically targeting and catering to the needs of a sub-set (i.e., senior citizens) of the non-traditional students (Brandon, 2006). Along with this, it is pertinent for universities to reexamine the programs and fees that all students pay. Research would need to be done in order to conclude if non-traditional and traditional students want different amenities paid for by their fees. It might make more sense to have traditional students pay one set of fees for things that they would need (e.g., the recreation center, climbing wall, sporting pass, etc.). Even if there is no statistical difference in satisfaction between the groups, perhaps satisfaction as a whole could be increased once the university knows what is desired by each group.
Appendix A Factor Development Summary Related Cronbach Hypothesis Factor Name Items Alpha 5 Develop/Prepare 1. Developing as a person. 0.7 2. Preparing for a specific career. 3. Preparing for life in general. 6 Academic 1. I am finding academic 0.75 Difficulty work at college difficult. 2. I am satisfied with the level at which I am performing academically. 7 Involvement 1. Athletics 0.72 (Intramurals, etc.) 2. Athletics (working out) 3. Social Activities (bars, clubs, etc) 4. Leisure Activities 5. (School) Athletic Events 8 Good Time 1. Having a good time while (NA) at school. Single item 10 Stress 1. Overall, I would consider 0.85 myself to be "stressed out". 2. I get stressed because I feel I do not have enough time. 3. I get stressed because of school work. 11 Satisfaction 1. Overall, I am glad I 0.89 selected (school) for my college. 2. If I had to start over again, I would still choose (school). 3. I feel a great deal of pride attending (school). Appendix B Survey Instrument Student Lifestyle Survey Section A: General attitudes, opinions, and reason for being at (school). Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Not at all important and 7 = Very important 1. Earning a lot of money. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. Having a good time while at school. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. Developing as a person. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. Preparing for a specific career. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. Preparing for life in general. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6. Getting out of college as soon as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 possible. Section B: Level of involvement and participation in various activities. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strong Agree 1. I am very involved with my religious 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 organization(s) (e.g., Church). 2. I am very involved with my 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Sorority/Fraternity. 3. I am very involved with one or more 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 professional organization(s). 4. I participate regularly in athletic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities (e.g., intramurals). 5. I participate regularly in physical 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities (e.g., workout). 6. I participate regularly in social 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities (e.g., going to clubs & bars). 7. I participate regularly in leisure 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities (e.g., shopping, movies, hobbies, pleasure reading, music, etc.). 8. I regularly attend (school) athletic 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 events (e.g., football, basketball). 9. I regularly attend other (school) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 sponsored events (e.g., Christmas tree lighting). Section C: General opinions about school. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number form 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. I feel pressured to perform well 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 in every course I take. 2. Getting the best grades possible 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 in school is very important to me. 3. I usually keep up to date on my 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 academic work. 4. I am finding academic work at 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 college difficult. 5. I am satisfied with the level at 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 which I am performing academically. 6. I am not doing well enough 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 academically for the amount of time I put in. Section D: General questions about my work. If you do NOT WORK, please SKIP this section. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 - Strongly Agree 1. I consider my job to be very 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 stressful. 2. I feel I am compensated adequately 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 for the type of work I do. 3. I am very committed to my job. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. I consider my job to be a good 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 learning experience. 5. I am working in my present job 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 only for the money. 6. My job affects my school work 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 negatively. Section E: General social life and relationships related issues. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. In my experience, administrative 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 personnel at (school) can best be described as helpful, considerate, and flexible. 2. In my experience, faculty members 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 at (school) can best be described as approachable, helpful, and encouraging. 3. My parents can best be described 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 as caring, compassionate, and supportive of me. 4. My spouse or significant other can 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 best be described as affectionate, devoted, and supportive of me. 5. I feel that I fit in well as part 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 of the college environment. 6. I am very involved with social 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities in college. 7. I am getting along very well with 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 my peer(s) at college. 8. I am satisfied with the extent to 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 which I am participating in social activities at college. 9. I have some good friends and 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 acquaintances at college with whom I can talk about any problems I might have. 10. I am quite satisfied with my social 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 life at college. Section F: General opinions about attending SHSU. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. Overall, I am glad I selected 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (school) for my college. 2. If I had to start over again, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 I would still choose (school). 3. I feel a great deal of pride 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 attending SHSU. Section G: Information about how you manage your time. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. I feel I manage my time very well. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. I usually cram before the test. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. I feel I have a lot of free time. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. My involvement in extracurricular 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 activities takes a lot of time. 5. I feel I have enough time in a day 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 to complete all the necessary tasks. 6. I plan my class schedule around my 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 work schedule. 7. I plan my work schedule around my 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 class schedule. Section H: Information about stress. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. Overall, I would consider myself to 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 be "stressed out". 2. I get stressed because I feel I do 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 not have enough time. 3. I get stressed because of school 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 work. 4. I am stressed because of the demands 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 of my personal relationships. 5. I am stressed because of money 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 issues. Section I: Information about how you cope with stress. Using the following scale, CIRCLE any number from 1 thru 7, with 1 = Strongly Disagree and 7 = Strongly Agree 1. I have considered dropping out of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 school. 2. I engage in mental activities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (e.g., meditation, video games) to relieve stress. 3. I engage in physical activities 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (e.g., working out, playing sports) to relieve stress. 4. When a class is not going too well, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 sometimes I just tell myself it isn't that important. 5. When things aren't going so well, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 sometimes I put things in a broader perspective and then it doesn't seem so bad. 6. I Attend class but don't pay 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 attention: work on other things or just "zone out". 7. I Skip classes. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. I tend to skip formal group or 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 organization meetings. 9. I formally withdraw membership in 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 a club. 10. I formally drop a course. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11. I ask for time off from work. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12. I quit my job. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13. I move back home (with my parents) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 for a while. 14. I go out drinking in the bars. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15. I discuss my problems with an 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 instructor. 16. I talk to a school counselor. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 17. I talk to a friend. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 18. I talk to a parent. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19. I go to a party. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Section J: Things that cause you stress. Which of the following factors do you feel contribute the most stress in your life? Please RANK ORDER them from 1-7, where 1 is most stressful and 7 is least stressful 1. Finances (money problems)-- 2. Time (lack thereof)-- 3. Job (what and where your work)-- 4. Family (lack of support)-- 5. Relationships with others-- 6. School (number and types of courses)-- 7. Involvement in Organization-- Section K: How You Spend Your Time. 1. Besides classes, approximately how much time do you spend per week on the (school) campus? Check one. 1. None  2. 1-10 hours  3. 11-20 hours  4. 21-30 hours  5. 31-40 hours  6. Over 40 hours  2. There are 168 hours in a week (24 X 7). To help us better understand how you SPEND YOUR TIME, please tell us about how many hours you spend doing each of the following activities (please put a zero on any activity that you do not spend time on). 1. Sleeping --hours 2. Eating --hours 3. Studying --hours (please include class time) 4. Working for pay --hours 5. Taking on the phone --hours 6. Socializing --hours (both friends and relatives) 7. Watching TV/On the Internet --hours 8. Household and other chores --hours 9. Exercise and self-care --hours 10. Entertainment and recreation --hours 11. Other --hours (please specify--) TOTAL 168 hours 3. During the time school is in session, about how many HOURS A WEEK do you usually SPEND OUTSIDE OF CLASS on activities related to your academic program (e.g., studying, writing, reading, lab work, rehearsing, etc)? Check one. 1. None  2. 1-10 hours  3. 11-20 hours  4. 21-30 hours  5. 31-40 hours  6. Over 40 hours  4. During the time school is in session, about how many HOURS A WEEK do you generally spend WORKING at a job for pay? Check one. 1. None  2. 1-10 hours  3. 11-20 hours  4. 21-30 hours  5. 31-40 hours  6. Over 40 hours  Section L: Classification Questions Please check the box for the choice that applies to you. 1. Approximately how many miles (one way) to do you commute to (school)? Check one. 1. None (live on campus)  2. Less than 5 miles  3. 5-15 miles  4. 16-25 miles  5. 26-35 miles  6. More than 35 miles  2. With respect to your RELATIONSHIP status, are you currently: Check one. 1. Married  2. Living with a significant other  3. Neither  3. What is your GENDER? Check one. 1. Male  2. Female  4. Are you currently responsible for caring for any children? Check one 1. Yes  2. No  5. What is your age? --in YEARS. 6. Which of the following best describes your ETHNIC ORIGIN? Check one. 1. Caucasian (White)  2. Hispanic (Non-White)  3. African-American  4. Asian-American  5. Other  7. What is your current ACADEMIC CLASSIFICATION in college? Check one. 1. Freshman  2. Sophomore  3. Junior  4. Senior  5. Graduate  6. Other  8. Did you begin your college here at (school) or did you transfer here from another institution? Check one. 1. Started here  2. Transferred from another institution  (Name of institution--) 9. How many years have you been attending an institution of higher education (community college, university, technical college)? Check one. 1. Less than 1 year  2. 1-2 years  3. 3-4 years  4. 5-6 years  5. More than 7 years  10. How many credit hours are you CURRENTLY registered for?--hours. 11. How are you financing your college education? What PERCENTAGE of your college expenses are paid for by each of the following (please make sure the total adds to 100)? 1. Self/Own Funds --% 2. Parents --% 3. Spouse or significant other --% 4. Employer support --% 5. Scholarship and grants --% 6. Student loans --% 7. Other (please specify) --% TOTAL 100% 12. What is your current OVERALL GPA? Check one. 1. Less than 2.00  2. 2.00-2.50  3. 2.51-3.00  4. 3.01-3.50  5. 3.51-4.00  13. WITH WHOM do you LIVE DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR? Check one. 1. No one, I live alone  2. One or more other students  3. My spouse or significant other  4. My child or children  5. My parent or parents  6. Friends who are not students at SHSU  14. WHERE do you live DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR? Check one. 1. Dormitory or other campus housing  2. Fraternity or Sorority house  3. Residence within Walker County  4. Residence outside Walker County  15. Did either of your PARENTS GRADUATE from college? Check one. 1. Both parents  2. Father only  3. Mother only  4. Neither  16. Which of the following college does your MAJOR fall in? Check one. 1. College of Arts and Sciences  2. College of Business Administration  3. College of Criminal Justice  4. College of Education  5. College of Humanities and Social Sciences  6. None of the above  Please write your specific major in this space-- 17. Which of the following best describes your family's annual household income for 2004? Check one. 1. Less than $30,000  2. $30,000-$45,000  3. $45,001-$60,000  4. More than $60,000  18. Which of the following best describes your own personal income for 2004? Check one. 1. Less than $15,000  2. $15,000-$30,000  3. $30,001-$45,000  4. More than $45,000 
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About the Authors:
John J. Newbold earned his Ph.D. at St. Louis University in 1993. Currently, he is Associate Professor of Marketing at Sam Houston State University. Previously he has held market research positions at Anheuser-Busch
Companies and Compaq Computer. He is interested in research related to better tailoring courses and programs to non-traditional students
Sanjay S. Mehta earned his Ph.D. at the University of North Texas in 1999. Currently, he is Professor of Marketing at Sam Houston State University. Dr. Mehta has worked extensively with small businesses in developing their marketing plans. He is interested in research on better pedagogical approaches to teaching marketing strategy.
Patricia Forbus earned her MBA from the University of Arkansas in 1997 and has completed post-graduate work at Sam Houston State University. She is retired from AT&T/Lucent/SBC and has worked as a Business Development Volunteer for the Peace Corps in the Ukraine.
John J. Newbold
Sanjay S. Mehta
Sam Houston State University
University of Arkansas
Table 1 Traditional vs. Non-traditional Students: Marital Status Traditional Non-traditional Students Students (N) (363) (89) Married or 13.7% 49.4% Significant Other Not Married 86.3% 50.6% Pearson Chi-Square value = 55.431 (1 df) Significance Level (2-sided) = .000 Table 2 Traditional vs. Non-traditional Students: Commuter Status Traditional Non-traditional Students Students (N) (363) (89) Live less than 5 miles 65.3% 39.3% from campus Live 5 miles or more 34.7% 60.7% from campus Pearson Chi-Square value = 20.106 (1 df) Significance Level (2-sided) = .000 Table 3 Traditional vs. Non-traditional Students: Number of Hours Worked per Week Traditional Non-traditional Students Students (N) (363) (89) None 32.3% 22.5% 20 hours or less 30.1% 32.6% 21 hours or more 37.6% 44.9% Pearson Chi-Square value = 3.419 (2 df) Significance Level (2-sided) = .181 Table 4 Traditional vs. Non-traditional Students: Number of Years in College Traditional Non-traditional Students Students (N) (363) (89) Less than 1 year 23.5% 0.0% 1-2 years 26.0% 4.6% 3-4 years 39.2% 27.6% 5+ years 11.3% 67.8% Pearson Chi-Square value = 138.175 (3 df) Significance Level (2-sided) = .000 Table 5 Means Test Summary--Attitudes/Behaviors Traditional Hypotheses Factor Mean [H.sub.5] Develop/Prepare for the Future 6.1694 [H.sub.6] Academic Difficulty 3.7740 [H.sub.7] Involvement in Social Activities 4.1154 [H.sub.8] Having a Good Time 5.0956 Non-Traditional Hypotheses Mean T-score p-value [H.sub.5] 5.9026 2.557 0.011 * [H.sub.6] 3.2978 2.906 0.004 ** [H.sub.7] 3.0985 5.375 0.000 ** [H.sub.8] 4.1236 6.014 0.000 ** * p-values are significant at alpha = .05 ** p-values are significant at alpha = .01 Table 6 Means Test Summary--Outcomes Traditional Hypotheses Question Mean [H.sub.9] GPA 3.3722 [H.sub.10] Overall Stress 4.5357 [H.sub.11] Overall Satisfaction 5.7507 Non-Traditional Hypotheses Mean T-score p-value [H.sub.9] 3.5862 -1.730 .084 ** [H.sub.10] 4.2921 1.154 .249 [H.sub.11] 5.7865 -.208 .835 ** p-values are significant at alpha = .01 Table 7 Hypotheses Summary Hypothesis Accepted Rejected [H.sub.1]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with regard to being married or living with a significant other. [H.sub.2]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to being a commuter student. [H.sub.3]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to number of hours worked per week. [H.sub.4]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the number of years spent in college. [H.sub.5]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to their desire to utilize the college experience to develop as a person and prepare for the future. [H.sub.6]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to having academic difficulties in college. [H.sub.7]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to their level of involvement in various college social activities. [H.sub.8]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to concern about having a good time in college. [H.sub.9]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to grade point average (GPA). [H.sub.10]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the level of stress they experience as a result of attending college. [H.sub.11]: There is no difference between [check] non-traditional students and traditional students with respect to the level of satisfaction with the college experience.
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|Author:||Newbold, John J.; Mehta, Sanjay S.; Forbus, Patricia|
|Publication:||International Journal of Education Research (IJER)|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2010|
|Next Article:||A factor analysis of student responses and perceptions of ethical conduct in business.|