Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


Date of this Version

Spring 4-20-2011


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirement For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Psychological Studies in Education, Under the Supervision of Professor Kurt F. Geisinger. Lincoln, Nebraska: March 2011

Copyright 2011 Andrew Callahan Dwyer


Faced with making college admission decisions on an increasingly large number of applicants, many higher education institutions have begun to consider using additional information to assist with those decisions. Unlike college admissions practices for the population of first-time freshmen, however, admission practices for the population of transfer students have been largely ignored in the literature. There is evidence that the transfer student population is growing and will likely continue to grow for the foreseeable future, which emphasizes the need for colleges and universities to find additional suitable information to use in transfer student admission. Using data from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and the College Board, this study investigated whether AP examination scores are valid predictors of later college performance. To help fully explore that relationship, the predictive power of AP examinations scores was compared to the predictive power of other potential admissions criteria (e.g., high school rank, ACT/SAT scores, previous college GPA), and those relationships were examined for both the population of first-time freshman as well as transfer students.

The results of this study indicate that the population of transfer student applicants is indeed growing. Furthermore, this population of students is changing over time, as an increasing percentage of transfer students have AP examination scores in their records (although that percentage is still quite small). AP examination information was found to be positively correlated with the measures of college performance, but AP examinations added little to the prediction of college performance after accounting for other predictors used in college admissions like high school rank, admission test scores (ACT or SAT), or previous college GPA. Instead, high school rank was generally found to be the best predictor of college performance. Findings, limitations, and recommendations for future studies are discussed. One specific recommendation for future research involves the need for a better understanding of the population of transfer students. That information would be vital to any further efforts to examine potential predictors of transfer student performance in college.