The Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills

Madison, WI

Although the issues of placement exams impact most less selective or open enrollment colleges, the efficacy of DAACS as an alternative to traditional placement exams was conducted at two large online distance education colleges: Excelsior College and Western Governors University. DAACS is an assessment framework that provides students with a formative view of their skills in self-regulation, reading, writing, and math. For administrators, DAACS provides valuable information to inform personalized interventions and more accurate risk modeling.

This session will cover to aspects of the Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills (DAACS): Instrument development the efficacy study. Results suggest that DAACS is a valid and reliable assessment of self-regulated learning, reading, mathematics, and writing. We will discuss the development process and psychometric qualities of these assessments. Part two will cover the efficacy study being conducted at two online institutions (Western Governors University and Excelsior College). Specifically, a large randomized control trial is being conducted (n > 10,000) to address the two research questions above. Preliminary results suggest there is no statistical difference in student outcomes, but there is a statistically significant increase in the accuracy of models predicting term-to-term retention (~ 5%). The implications for the null result to question one and the planned changes to the intervention will be discussed. It should be noted that some research suggest that placement exams and remediation programs have a negative effect on student retention and therefore a null result could be viewed as an improvement. However, follow-up analyses of the prediction models reveal important interactions between self-regulation domains and academic measures that will inform modifications to the intervention, specifically vis-à-vis targeted interventions, or nudges, for both students and academic advisors/mentors.