Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Elizabeth Jones.


Open admissions policies pose a critical challenge to retention at community colleges because, on average, over one third of the students enter unprepared to meet the academic demands. Faced with the shocking first-year attrition rate of over fifty percent at public community colleges (McCabe, 2000), taxpayers, legislators, and college officials have become embroiled in debate over the high cost of remediation and the "human capital" (Shaffer, 1997, 1998) costs of pitting access against excellence. Previous research has established that mandatory basic skills assessment and mandatory placement into developmental courses leads to lower attrition rates and higher grade point averages for underprepared students. Research also has shown that academic advising plays a critical role in improving student retention. This research project examined both developmental placement policies and the advisor/advisee relationship from a new perspective, through the lens of advisors' attitudes.;This research explored the possibility that advisors hold preconceived views toward underprepared students and distinct opinions about the responsibility community colleges hold in providing them with access to higher education. It explored whether advisors' attitudes toward both underprepared students and the policies that direct course placement are related to the way the advisors view and carry out their role as advisor and, by extension, whether underprepared students' academic performance and perceived success is related to advisors' attitudes. Attitudes were measured on two researcher-constructed surveys.;Two overarching hypotheses guided the study. The first hypothesis (H 1) was that advisors perform their advising duties in accordance with their attitudes or belief systems. H1 gained statistical support. The second (H2) was that advisors' attitudes toward underprepared students and toward developmental placement policies are related to their advisees' subsequent academic performance and perceived success. A relationship between advisors' attitudes and students' academic performance, as measured by course grades and completion rates, was not established. However, a small but significant relationship was found between students' perceptions of their advisors' attitudes and their own academic performance. Also, qualitative data indicated that students perceived a positive influence on their success from talking to their advisors.