Article 3: LASSI PROJECT Fall 2000 Student Outcomes Assessment

by Jan Swinton and Jeff Moore,
Spokane Falls Community College


This study looks at reading intensive course(s) grade point average (GPA) vs. LASSI scores. The data was collected during the 1998-2000 school years. The reading intensive courses, taken during the quarter in which the LASSI was administered, are examined below. If the student took more than one reading intensive course, all reading intensive courses were averaged together. It was decided that academic success would be defined as a GPA of 2.0 or above in reading intensive courses taken during the quarter in which the LASSI was administered. Those with less than 2.0 are considered unsuccessful. When considered from this vantage point, a picture emerges in which the LASSI seems to be a predictor of GPA in reading intensive courses.

Students in Graphs One and Two below are divided into successful and unsuccessful groups based on academic success. The graphs are further broken down into scores for each of the ten LASSI categories.

Graph One contains the categories: Attitude, Motivation, and Anxiety, which are affective attributes that are difficult to change with classroom instruction. Graph Two contains the categories of Time Management, Concentration, Information Processing, Selecting Main Ideas, Study Aids, Self Testing, and Test Taking Strategies.

As the graphs show, those who were academically successful scored higher in every category on the LASSI except Time Management (which showed a -.08 point difference). Also notable is the score spread: In general, scoring lower than 50 in a LASSI category indicates a concern. With the exception of Study Aids and Test Strategies, those who were successful in reading intensive classes scored above, or very close to, the 50 mark. In contrast, those who were unsuccessful scored lower than 50 in all categories except Time Management and Concentration. While it cannot be stated that there is a categorical difference between a score of 49 and a score of 51, breaking the spread of scores along this line does seem to verify the contention of the LASSI authors that students scoring below 50 are less likely to be academically successful without some intervention.

There are, however, exceptions to this contention. In this study there were three students at each end of the continuum who did not perform as predicted. The answer for why three students scored well on the LASSI and did so poorly in the classroom may be extracted from a series of studies conducted by Dr. Justin Kruger and Dr. David Dunning. Four studies were summarized and the results published in the Journal of Personality & Social Psychology Vol 77(6), Dec 1999, 1121-1134 entitled Unskilled and unaware of it: How difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments.

Drs. Dunning and Kruger suggest that the abilities that allow students to do well in the classroom are abilities necessary to evaluate their performance. Since these students are unable to properly evaluate their own performance, their scores are not reflective of reality. In fact, remedial help for these students should lower their LASSI scores as the students learn how to evaluate their own performance. A similar study by Koriat, Asher, et al, entitled Assessing our own competence: Heuristics and Illusions, points toward the same conclusion: students with poor cognitive abilities frequently overestimate their performance.

At the other end of the continuum, three students were academically successful (a GPA above 3.0 for all three) had scored extremely low on the LASSI. Since it can be assumed that students who are academically successful have the cognitive abilities to evaluate their own performance, perhaps this underestimation of ability stems from an emotional base. If this hypothesis is true, self-confidence may be interfering with a realistic assessment of the students’ performance.


It is clear that for the overwhelming majority of students, the LASSI appears to be a good instrument of measurement with regards to success in reading intensive courses. In this particular group 94% of the students were adequately represented by their LASSI scores based on reading intensive GPA. Students who were academically successful scored, on average, above 50 in all categories of the LASSI. Students who were academically unsuccessful scored, on average, below 50 in all ten LASSI categories.

Although LASSI is an effective screening tool, it is important for instructors to be cognizant of the small group of students (approximately 6% in this sample) for whom the LASSI is not predictive of academic success. This group includes students who don’t have the skills to accurately assess their own abilities through the LASSI’s questions. These students may need remediation to begin to build accurate self-assessment abilities. One would expect that these students’ scores would actually decline as they gained the skills necessary to assess their own abilities. Conversely, some students do well in the classroom, yet score poorly on the LASSI. It is assumed that these students have logical assessment skills since these are abilities necessary to do well in the classroom. Therefore, it can be inferred that their self misassessment is based on low self-confidence or other unknown factors.

Academic Success (Successful) = 2.0 or above. Unsuccessful = less than 2.0. This GPA is for all reading intensive courses taken during the quarter in which the LASSI was given.

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