Can you predict if a student will be successful in graduate school even before they step foot in a classroom? That is the question that Larry Boles, PhD, CCC-SLP Graduate Director and Professor of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology wanted answered. He presented a poster entitled, “Predicting Graduate School Success” outlining the finding of his research at the 2015 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) convention held in Denver, Colorado.
What motivated him to explore this topic was the lack of existing research on predicting the success of graduate students. Dr. Boles explains, “In my search of the literature I found very little data investigating this issue.” He elaborates, “Like most graduate programs in most fields, we ask for [undergraduate] grade point averages, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, etc. I wanted to see which of these, or which combination of these, predicted how our grad students did as students.”
Dr. Boles explains the variables he used in his study: “Just prior to graduation, our [graduate students] take the Praxis exam, which is a national test covering all areas of our field. I decided that would be a good and quantifiable measure of the knowledge and skills they had attained.” The Praxis exam is an important benchmark in the speech-langue-pathology (SLP) profession as an individual must earn a passing score in order to receive their certification from ASHA. According to Dr. Boles, Pacific’s SLP students have had a 100 percent pass rate for the Praxis exam for the last 10 years.
In explaining how he conducted his research he shares, “Using a multiple regression analysis I compared the GRE scores and each grade in each course to the Praxis score, plus letters of recommendation.” In presenting the conclusions he drew from this study Dr. Boles said, “The most compelling predictor variables for success were the GRE scores combined with grades in three courses: Speech and Hearing Science, Speech and Language Development and Phonetics.”
Dr. Boles joined the Pacific faculty in 2010 after over a decade in the California State University system. He has been impressed by the environment of support created by the faculty and staff that prioritizes the success of each individual student. Dr. Boles shares, “I think we do a particularly good job of giving students more personal attention [and] personal attention matters.”
By Anne Marie H. Bergthold