Instructor: Bob Melara
FUN PAPER # 1
Due Date: Monday, October 15th, 2012, by 5 pm on **Blackboard**
Critical Thinking using Psychological Science
The Learning Alliance for Higher Education, an educational consulting firm based at the University of Pennsylvania, was hired by City College in 2011 to investigate and make recommendations for improving undergraduate retention and graduation at the College. Even though most City College students receive financial assistance, have decent high school grades, and live at home with their parents – factors that should contribute to good graduation rates – in fact, currently only 7% of students admitted to the College graduate from it in four years. Only 36% graduate in six years. Indeed, roughly half of the students admitted drop out completely within two years. Students who transfer to City College from another school, either inside or outside the CUNY system (e.g., a CUNY community college), disappear even faster: Half leave the College, and half of those leave by their first year at the College.
The goal of Fun Paper #1 is to use your critical thinking skills to evaluate the consultant’s report and consider hypotheses for explaining and improving the low City College graduation rate. We want you to write a paper that considers the strengths and weaknesses of the evidence and arguments, provides interpretations, and reaches your own conclusions using psychological science. Begin by reading the report, which is included at the bottom of this assignment.
First, title your paper “A Critical Examination of Retention and Dropout at City College”. Next: FOLLOW EACH OF THE FOLLOWING FIVE INSTRUCTIONS EXACTLY (The following is a detailed outline on how you should write this paper):
Your paper should consist of five paragraphs corresponding to the 5 questions below. DO NOT write an outlined paper: It needs to be in essay format. Within each paragraph, please be clear on which letter you are answering by placing a bold letter in front of the sentences. If you are answering “1a” place a letter “a” before the sentence/s. (Here’s an example: The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a summary of a report conducted by City College to make recommendations for student admission to the College. I found several strengths in this report. 1 a. One of the most convincing statements by the report’s author was…)
1. Begin the first paragraph of the paper with these sentences: “The purpose of this paper is to evaluate a report conducted by The Learning Alliance to investigate student retention at City College. I found several findings from this report helpful in illuminating the retention problem.”
a. Which combinations of ethnicity and gender are most vulnerable to becoming college dropouts at City College? Which combinations of ethnicity and gender are least vulnerable to becoming college dropouts? Develop one hypothesis for why certain ethnic/gender groupings tend to drop out. (5 pts). b. Describe the correlation between when someone is admitted to the College and the tendency to drop out? Has this correlation increased, decreased, or stayed the same between 2004 and 2006? Suggest one interpretation of this correlation and its trend. (5 pts). c. City College dropout rates appear to depend in part on where someone originally comes from: the city, the state, or outside the country (which could include both the documented and the undocumented). How does where you come from affect dropout? Develop one hypothesis for why place of origin affects retention. (5 pts).
2. Begin the second paragraph of the paper with this sentence: “The retention problem may be due in part to the background preparation of students for college.”
a. Describe the relationship between retention at City College and scores on pre-admission indices such as high school grades and SAT scores. What do these...