Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Educational tests and measurements--Validity; Community college students--Iowa--Waterloo--Evaluation;


The purpose of this study was to investigate the efficacy of writing course placement at an Iowa community college. The following questions were addressed: What indicators, separately or in combination, resulted in an appropriate or inappropriate student writing placement? (a) To what extent did the COMPASS test result in an appropriate placement? (b) To what extent did the self-directed essay result in an appropriate placement? (c) To what extent did a student's preference result in an appropriate placement?

This study was important to understand how the “directed self-placement” model, adapted from Royer and Gilles (1998, p. 1), impacted the institution's placement practices. The placement of courses was a critical component when beginning a student's program of study. In order to obtain a rich understanding of the phenomena, a mixed methodological design was used to analyze data including COMPASS test scores, essay content and ratings, student placement surveys, and faculty perceptions.

Placement data used to select a student's course indicated a single indicator (COMPASS, essay, or student preference) could not successfully predict an appropriate course placement for every student participating in the study. The content of the essays suggested students considered non-cognitive factors such as confidence, motivation, and work experiences when selecting courses.

The independent analysis indicated agreement among all three or any combination of two placement indicators should result in an appropriate course placement. Approximately 91% of the students were recommended to select their courses with at least two of the three placement indicators in agreement; however, agreement among these indicators varied. Survey results indicated the majority of the students were satisfied or very satisfied with their course placement; 85.2% at 6 weeks and 89.1% at 15 weeks.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Department of Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Postsecondary Education

First Advisor

Michael Waggoner, Committee Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (vii, 173 pages)



File Format