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Student Learning Program : Assessment for Improved Students

Scholastic Performance and Retention


MELJUN P. CORTES
Action Research
College of Engineering and Computer Studies
Asian Summit College

Abstract
The study is an assessment of the implementation of the Student Learning Program (SLP), as a
vehicle to improve scholastic performance and retention of students. The study aimed to make an
assessment of the SLP program from the viewpoint of student-mentors and student-mentees at Asian
Summit College. Specifically, the study sought to know (1) the profile of mentors and mentees in the SLP
program of the institution; (2) their assessment of the SLP program implementation; (3) their assessment
of the collaboration of the mentors and mentees in the learning program; (4) their assessment on the
effectiveness of SLP relative to the mentees pursuit of the course/subject; and (5) their concerns for
improvements of the SLP program. Exhaustive sampling was used, involving 107 respondents: consisting
of 33 student mentors and 74 student mentees, who were referred to the SLP Program based on their
failed Midterm Grades. At the end of the SLP Program, fifty- three (53) out of the seventy-four (74)
mentees or seventy-two percent (72%) obtained passing grades in the Final. Overall, the assessment of
high ratings on the SLP program effectiveness of implementation and collaboration foretells well of the
SLP program of the institution. Moreover, suggestions for refinement of the use of this approach can be
pursued through a development or intervention program.
Keywords: quality learning, student learning program, assessment.
Concern for the quality of graduates from colleges and universities has been a recurrent topic in
tripartite conferences that involved business, government, and academic sectors. In this regard, there
have been attempts to employ some corporate practices in the academe for effective and efficient
management of the teaching-learning process, such as Management By Objectives (MBO), which is
related to Outcomes-Based Education (OBE), Malcolm Baldridge quality assurance, which is similar to
the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities Commission on Accreditation (PACUCOA), as well
as the Balanced Scorecard matrix of Kaplan and Norton, which talks about customer, competition,
financials, and continuing education of personnel. It is based on the theory that what works well in the
corporate world might also work well in the academe.
One such corporate practice now used in the academe is the quality learning, popularized by
W. Edwards Deming in Japan, which forms the theoretical framework of this paper. Based on the
Japanese Kaizen, quality learning involves a team of rank-and-file employees tasked to recommend
solutions for quality improvement of the work environment and productivity. The idea is to get people
involved in the search for quality and solutions to problems in the workplace. One application of this
concept is through the Student Learning Program (SLP), where student mentors help in the scholastic
performance of the student mentees.
The concept of quality control (Q-C) circles was developed in Japan in 1949 for the purpose of
having workers share with management the responsibility for locating and solving problems of
coordination and productivity (Ouchi, 1981). W.E. Deming, the acknowledged Father of the Total Quality
Management (TQM) movement, combined the concept of participatory management with skills needed to
make sound judgments. This combination of skills training with participatory management techniques had
the objective of motivating workers who have genuine input into, and control of, their working environment
to achieve excellence.

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Interest in quality circles spread to higher education in the 1980s, with some initial application in
the classroom (Heller & Santola, 1986; Kogut, 1984). Much broader continuing use has been found in
administrative areas as a successful method of problem solving (Simmons & Kahn, 1990; Yudof & BuschVishniac, 1996). As the discussion of quality in higher education began to include the increased
participation and ownership of students in the learning process, the use of quality circles in the classroom
has reemerged (Angelo & Cross, 1993; Nicoli & Butler, 1996; Nuhfer, 1992). This empowerment
technique continues the emphasis on quality and productivity. Use of the technique also involves sharing
of power between faculty and students. The concept of quality circles in the classroom is embedded in the
theory of emancipatory teaching promoted Freir (1993) wherein teachers and students are seen as
co-learners in the process of learning. This concept involves selecting a group of students to represent
concerns of the class to faculty at regularly scheduled meetings (Cunningham, 1994). Quality circles are
designed to improve the productivity of both faculty and students by focusing the attention of both on the
quality of students' learning.
Cullen (1999) explored the use of quality circles in academic administration settings, particularly
its application in classroom instruction through what she referred as Student Management Team (SMT).
Cullens study demonstrated the positive learning outcomes that can be achieved when they are used to
facilitate the learning experience of students in a classroom setting. These learning outcomes include
improved student mastery of course content, increased faculty and student communication, and
increased student satisfaction with course management. The authors strongly encourage other faculty to
explore the use of this teaching/learning technique as a means of enriching the classroom experience of
their students and improving learning outcomes.
In studying the problem of quality in American colleges and universities, members of a national
commission (National Institute of Education, 1984) determined that student involvement was the most
important condition essential to the promotion of excellence. The more students are involved, the more
intensely they engage in their education to make learning happen. The use of quality circles in the
classroom is one means of achieving both increased student involvement and increased student power.
As a technique of student empowerment, quality circles involve groups of students meeting regularly to
identify, analyze, solve, and implement solutions to course-related problems (Nuhfer, 1992). Quality
circles make students and teachers co-responsible for improving the quality of undergraduate education
and the quality of student life. The purpose of this paper is to describe the implementation and effects of
the use of a quality circle in an undergraduate nursing course.
Kogut (1996) Quality Circles (QCs), part of Total Quality Management, apply the principles of
behavioral science to the classroom. QC was applied in a college general chemistry class to assist all
students in learning acid-base equilibria in aqueous solution.
In the study of Baligado (2012), conducted at Kingston University, UK, from September 2010 to
January 2011, the possibilities of students quality circle was explored. It emphasizes innovation and
partnerships to tap hidden potentials of individuals, and bring people to work together for peace and
progress.
In the Philippines, quality learning have also been used in the industry and more recently, in the
academe. Asian Summit College has tried to use quality learning in improving student learning through
the student learning program (SLP). The SLP program covered in this study pertains to college students
enrolled in Information Technology or I.T. courses. It aimed to help the students who failed in their Prelim
and Mid-Term. A typical learning program is composed of four (4) to six (6) co-learners, i.e., one student
mentor handling three (3) to five (5) students who got failing grades in either their Prelim or Mid-Term. The
mentors are generally designated by the faculty; they belong to the top five percent (5%) or top ten
percent (10%) of the class. The mentors and the mentees meet at least once a week, and spend at least
one hour per session during the free hours of both mentors and mentees. The meeting is conducted in
the spirit of teamwork and camaraderie. Initial orientation and guidance is given by the faculty to both
mentors and mentees.

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Application of quality learning, like the SLP, in the academic environment involves selecting a
group of students to represent concerns of the class to student scholastic performance and retention. It is
believed that the use of this technique would result in increased student learning experience, and would
enable them to identify and respond to problems and concerns as the course progressed. Both mentors
and mentees share their vision of an improved climate of learning in which students would actively
participate. The SLP members treat each other as co-learners.
SLP is a relatively new concept in higher education, which aims to help improve the scholastic
performance of students. It is therefore important to monitor and assess its effectiveness in the teachinglearning environment. The significance of the study is overarching the issue of quality graduates who
could meet the manpower requirements of the industry, in particular, and the larger society, in general. It
also put under the lens the theory that good corporate practices (like quality learning) could also be
applied in the academic landscape.
Basically, the study aimed to make an assessment of the SLP program from the viewpoint of
student-mentors and student-mentees themselves at Asian Summit College. Specifically, the study sought
to find out: (1) the profile of mentors and mentees in the SLP program of the school; (2) their assessment
of the SLP program implementation; (3) their assessment of the collaboration of the mentors and
mentees in the learning circle; (4) their assessment on the effectiveness of SLP relative to the mentees
pursuit with the course/subject; and (5) their concerns for improvements of the SLP program.
The conceptual framework has its basis from the quality circle concept as applied in the corporate
world, that workers do better when they themselves get involved in the search for the solutions to their
work problems, pertaining to product quality assurance and work productivity. According to Oichi (1981)
the concept was popularized by W. Edwards Deming among Japanese firms, which happened to be
consistent with the Japanese concept of Kaizen, the Japanese word for continuous improvement.
Applied in the academe, the student learning circle aims to improve the learning of the student-mentees
with the help of their co-learners, the student-mentor. In this case, the teacher-student relationship is
avoided, because the mentor is also one of them. The program is also supported by mainstream social
learning theories, which are applied in higher education.
A modification of the classic IPO paradigm was used in the study, i.e., the Input-Process-ProductImpact or IPPI approach, presented, as follows:
Input
Demographi
c Profile:
-Mentors
-Mentees

Process

Assessment of
the SLP
Program
implementatio
n

Product

Impact

Results of
the
Assessment

Development
/
Intervention

Program

Figure 1
Research Paradigm
From Figure 1, the demographic profiles of student-mentors and student-mentees are the Input
or independent variables, the Process is the assessment of the SLP program which is done through a
survey using a researcher-crafted LikertScale questionnaire, the Product pertains to the results of the
assessment, and the Impact pertains to the recommendations in the form of a development/intervention
program to improve the SLP program.

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The following null-hypotheses tested in the study were, as follows:


1.

There is no significant relationship between the demographic profile of the respondents and
their assessment of the SLP program implementation.

2.

There is no significant relationship between the SLP program implementation and the effects
on learning.

The sample respondents were limited to students in Asian Summit College with I.T. and computer
science subjects under their respective degree-programs. A researcher-developed LikertScale
questionnaire was used as instrument to gather data, which future researchers may have to test for
content validity and reliability.
Method
The sampling was exhaustive. It made use of all the student-mentees, n=74, who enlisted in the
SLP Program, and the 33 student mentors designated by the faculty in Academic Year 2012-2013. All
respondents were enrolled under the various degree-programs, with subjects in computer science or
information technology, of Asian Summit College, one of the few autonomous higher education institutions
of the country.
The survey-instrument was developed by the researcher. It was composed of four parts, namely:
(1) demographic profile of respondents, (2) assessment of SLP implementation, (3) assessment on SLP
collaboration of mentors and mentees, and (4) assessment on the effects of SLP to learning.
MS Excel of Microsoft Office version 2010 and SPSS version 16.0 was used for the statistical
treatment of the survey data. Descriptive statistics such as measures of central tendency and variability
were used, as well as inferential statistics, like Pearsons correlation coefficients, and regression
coefficients.
The survey covered the period after the Mid-Term of the 1st Semester, of the Academic Year
2012-2013.
Results
Demographic Profile.
The mentor-mentee ratio was thirty to seventy percent (30 % 70%). All mentors consisting of
thirty-three (33) student-mentors were under the program: Bachelor of Science in Information Technology
(BSIT), who belong to the top five percent (5%) or top ten percent (10%) of the classes in information
technology subjects. Majority of the participants, ninety-two percent (92%) were under the BSIT program
of the University; the remaining eight percent (8%) was spread over other degree-programs. A good
number of the seventy-four (74) student-mentees had failing grades in IT subjects prior to joining the SLP
Program; forty-five percent (45%) in COOP 106, forty-seven percent (47%) in COOP 115 and eight
percent (8%) in COOP 215 . Majority of the student-mentees, consisted of 1 st year , 2nd year and 3rd year
students; only two percent (2%) in the 4th year. Likewise, majority of participants are below 20 years old
(66%), the rest are in the age range of 20 to 29 years old (34%); female, 28%; and male, 72%.
Ratings on Implementation.
Among the mentors and mentees in the learning circle, 86.92 % (agree,64.49% and strongly agree,
22.43%), rated SLP as an effective way of learning.

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Table 1. SLP as an Effective Way of Learning

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Respondents

Frequency
4
10

Percent(%)
3.74
9.34

69
24

64.49
22.43

107

100.00

Majority of the participants in the learning circle or 87.85 % (agree, 62.62%; and strongly agree,25.23%),
rated SLC to have a motivating effect on them.
Table 2. SLP as an Effective Way of Motivating Students
Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Respondents

Frequency
2
11

Percent(%)
1.87
10.28

67
27

62.62
25.23

107

100.00

Mentors Rating on Collaboration


Majority of the mentors, 19 out of the 33 mentors (57.58%; i.e.,42.43%, agree and 15.15%, strongly
agree ), gave an assessment of high rating on the collaboration of mentor-mentees in the learning
circle.
This speaks volumes about the need to determine the causes or reasons behind the disagreement of
the other 14 mentors, which were not explored in the study.
This may well be one of the basis for crafting a development/intervention program for SLP
improvement.
Table 3. Mentors Rating on Collaboration
Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Mentors
Mentees
Respondents

Frequency
4
10
14
5
33
74
107

Percent(%)
12.12
30.30
42.43
15.15
100.00

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Mentees Rating on Collaboration


On the other hand, an overwhelming majority, 71 out of 74 mentees (95.95%; i.e., 67.57%, agree and
28.38%, strongly agree) gave a high rating on the collaboration of mentor-mentees in the SLP
program. The mentees agreed on the soundness of the program.
Table 4. Mentees Rating on Collaboration

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Mentees
Mentors
Respondents

Frequency
1
2
50
21
74
33
107

Percent(%)
1.35
2.70
67.57
28.38
100.00

Effects of SLC on Mentees Learning


Majority of the participants in the program (both mentors and mentees), 104 out of 107 or 97.2% rated
the program to have a motivating effect on the mentees.
Table 5. SLP Motivates Mentees

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Respondents

Frequency
0
3

Percent(%)
0
2.80

84
20

78.50
18.70

107

100.00

A majority of the mentees, 97.2 %, rated the SLC program as helping the students to pursue the subject
and not to drop it .
Table 6. SLP helps Mentees to pursue the subject (not to drop it).

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Respondents

Frequency
0
3
79
25
107

Percent(%)
0
2.80
73.83
23.37
100.00

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Majority of the SLP participants (both mentors and mentees) were optimistic about the program as
helping the mentees improve their Mid-Term grades.
Table 7. SLP Helps Improve Mid-Term Grades

Strongly Disagree
Disagree
Agree
Strongly Agree
Respondents

Frequency
1
9
64
33
107

Percent(%)
0.93
8.41
59.82
30.84
100.00

Among the independent variables: (1)degree program/course, (2)year level, and (3)subjects being
mentored were determined to be predictors of the effectiveness of SLC, at significant .05 level using a
2-tailed analysis of variance test.
The null hypothesis that the demographic profile of respondents has no relationship with SLP
implementation effectiveness is rejected.
The alternative hypothesis is accepted.

Table 9 and Table 10 showed the Relationship between Implementation and Effects on Learning; that the
two are significantly related at 0.05 level (2-tailed).
The null hypothesis that there is no relationship between the two variables is rejected.
The alternative hypothesis is accepted.

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Table 10. Correlations

Pearson Correlation
Implementation

Effects on Learning

.195*

Sig. (2-tailed)
N

Effects on Learning

Implementation

.045
107

106
*

Pearson Correlation

.195

Sig. (2-tailed)

.045

106

1
106

*. Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


Reference to the actual grades of the 74 student-mentees showed that
53 mentees or 72% obtained passing Final Grades; only 21 failed or 28%.
Overall, results showed the high assessment rating of the SLP program in terms of its
implementation, collaboration of mentors-mentees, and effectiveness of the program relative to the
mentees pursuit of the course/subject.
Based on the results of the study, the following were the major findings:
1. The assessment of high rating on the implementation of SLP (86.92%) as an effective way of
learning (see Table1) strengthens the applicability of the quality learning concept in the
academes teaching-learning environment;
2. The assessment of high rating on SLPs motivating effect on the students (87.85%) (see Table2),
likewise supports the mainstream view that involvement and active participation of the learners
enhance their motivation to learn;
3. Some student-mentors (19 out of 33, or 57.58%) gave an assessment of high rating on the
collaboration of mentor-mentees (see Table3) in the learning learning. This means that 42% of
the student-mentors have some concerns or issues (attendance of mentees, exercises pertaining
to the lessons, incentive to mentors,etc.) that have to be addressed through a
development/intervention program;
4. An overwhelming majority of student-mentees (71 out of 74, or 95.95%) gave a high rating on the
collaboration of mentor-mentees in the SLP program (see Table4). The mentees agreed on the
soundness of the program; and
5. A majority of the mentees, 97.2%, rated the SLP program as helping the students to pursue the
subject and not to drop it (see Table 5 and Table 6). Said assessment rating supports the view
that the SLP program enhances the scholastic performance and retention of students in a
particular subject under their degree-program. The only negative comments came from three (3)
student-mentees enlisted in the SLP program.

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Conclusion and Recommendation


The study showed the overall high assessment ratings on the SLP program implementation,
collaboration, and effects on learning that indeed support the mainstream literature about the positive
impact of involvement and active participation of the co-learners (student-mentor and student-mentees) to
learning.
While respondents expressed satisfaction over their SLP experience, this study showed the tip of
the iceberg about some concerns and issues manifested in the low assessment ratings of the 14 student
mentors (42%), that have to be addressed. Some suggestions for improvement or refinement of the use
of this approach can be pursued, as embraced in the following development/intervention program:
Table 11. Development / Action or Intervention Program
(Based on the suggestions/concerns of the mentors-mentees collaboration)
Project

1)
2)
3)

4)

5)

A formal
orientation program on
SLP is needed.
Formal means of
assessment must be
developed.
Assignment of
student-mentors must not
only be based on grades
but also on the teaching
aptitude of the students.
A system of ensuring
regular attendance of
mentor and mentees must
be developed.
An incentive
scheme for the mentors
must be established to
encourage them to do a
good job in mentoring.

Responsibility
Faculty

Timing
At the start of the SLP
program

SLP program head or


faculty who initiated it.

At the end of Prelim and


Mid-Term periods

Faculty

Before the start of the


SLP program

Faculty, with the


ownership of the learning
circle

At the start of mentoring

Faculty

Before the start of the


SLP program

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Appendices

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