THE EFFECTS OF SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, VERBAL ABILITY, LOCUS OF CONTROL, ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION, AND PERSISTENCE ON THE WRITING ACHIEVEMENT OF TWO-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS

JEFFREY BRUCE WILLENS, Marquette University

Abstract

This study has sought to apply the Atkinson-Raynor general theory of cumulative achievement to the writing behavior of two-year college students in order to ascertain the relative unique and interactive effects of verbal ability, socioeconomic status, locus of control, achievement motivation, and persistence on the writing achievement of those students. Subjects in the study were 44 male and female Caucasian students in a midwestern two-year public college who were enrolled in remedial English or English composition sections during the summer of 1980. The subjects were directed to complete a family background questionnaire, the I-E Scale, the Measure of Individual Differences in Achieving Tendency, and the Vocabulary Subtest of the Iowa Silent Reading Test, Level 2. On subsequent dates, subjects were required by their instructors to write two impromptu in-class expository essays on topics specified by the researcher. Instructors indicated on each student essay the student's starting and stopping times. Essays were holistically rated by two experienced college English teachers who were not employed by the institution from which subjects were selected. Data thus obtained were subjected to zero-order correlation, multiple stepwise regression, and path analyses. Results of the zero-order correlation analysis revealed that verbal ability (r = .58; p < .01), locus of control (r = -.42; p < .01), and achievement motivation (r = .45; p < .01) were all significantly related to writing achievement, while socioeconomic status (r = -.12) and persistence (r = -.01) were not significantly related to the criterion variable. Moreover, it was found that verbal ability was significantly related both to locus of control (r = -.35, p < .01) and achievement motivation (r = .42; p < .01). Multiple regression analysis revealed an R of .664 (p < .01) between writing achievement and the combined effects of socioeconomic status, verbal ability, locus of control, achievement motivation, and persistence; although multiple stepwise regression analysis revealed that socioeconomic status and persistence contributed little to the predictive power of the fully specified equation. Multiple stepwise regression analysis also revealed that, of the 44% of variance in writing achievement "explained" by the fully specified multiple regression equation, 11% derived uniquely from the intervening variables, and 22% derived from the shared effect of verbal ability and the intervening social psychological variables. Path analysis revealed that socioeconomic status does not significantly affect writing achievement directly or indirectly. Verbal ability affects writing achievement directly but does not do so indirectly because of the nonsignificant effects of locus of control and achievement motivation on other variables in their respective contingent paths. For the same reason, neither locus of control nor achievement motivation were found to exert significant indirect effects on writing achievement. And persistence was found to be virtually orthogonal to writing achievement. When, however, persistence was removed from the theoretical model and the model was redesigned to reflect that absence, subsequent path analysis revealed that, while socioeconomic status still had a nonsignificant effect on writing achievement, verbal ability exerted its effect almost equally through direct effects and indirect effects involving locus of control and achievement motivation.

Recommended Citation

JEFFREY BRUCE WILLENS, "THE EFFECTS OF SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS, VERBAL ABILITY, LOCUS OF CONTROL, ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION, AND PERSISTENCE ON THE WRITING ACHIEVEMENT OF TWO-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS" (January 1, 1981). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8203781.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8203781

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