Marshall (2018). Student time choices and success.

Marshall, S. J. (2018). Student time choices and success. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(6), 1216–1230.

[Time management affecting student achievement …]

“Time allocation on course work was significantly affected by assessment deadlines and by student achievement striving. Student grade point average was strongly correlated with time spent, and strongly influenced by students’ beliefs regarding their motivation and self-efficacy.” (p 1216)

[Making time priorities based on returns …]

“Consequently people invest their time, energy and other resources in proportion to the anticipated benefits or ‘utility’ of the outcome.” (p 1217)

[Learning time is important, time pressures impede learning …]

“Additional time offers students the opportunity to reflect on their learning (Scheja, 2006) and the absence of time pressures helps students to avoid poor learning strategies (Chambers, 1992, 1994; Cope & Staehr, 2005; Fox & Radloff, 1998; Kreber, 2003; Race, 1995) including plagiarism (Devlin & Gray, 2007; Sheard, Markham, & Dick, 2003; Whitley, 1998).” (p 1217)

[Choices and expectations of success …]

“Motivation speaks to the choices students make, while self-efficacy relates to the success students expect of themselves as a result of those choices, both factors that speak to rational choices.” (p 1217)

[How to support learner self-efficacy …]

“Bandura (1977) defines self-efficacy as encompassing the ‘conviction that one can successfully execute the behavior required to produce the outcomes’ desired (p. 193). In Bandura’s model self-efficacy is influenced in four ways: individual mastery experiences, particularly through successfully completing challenging tasks; vicarious experiences such as that of a student able to observe and compare their own performance informally with that of peers; social persuasion such as the assurance of a teacher that the task posed is achievable; and fourthly, the individual responses to physiological and affective states arising from stress, anxiety or ordinary fatigue. Self-efficacy has been found to correlate strongly with student success including as seen through improved academic performance and constructive academic behaviours such as time-management (Klassen & Usher, 2010; Pajares & Urdan, 2005), suggesting a potentially strong link with students’ time investment in study.” (p 1217)

[Survey design using email prompts and web page …]

“At the end of each day during the week of their data collection, the students received an individual email with an embedded URL. This URL took students to a web page where they could supply details of their day in 30-minute increments.” (p 1219)

[Study design …]

“The system noted when the diary submissions were made, in order to detect students retrospectively completing diaries.

“Students were not able to see the summaries of their time allocation until the study was completed and they allocated particular times of the day to specific activities rather than supplying totals, thus helping to minimise any attempt to manufacture a particular outcome.” (p 1220)

[Television and GPA …]

“Interestingly, there was also a significant negative correlation (−0.21) between the hours spent watching television and GPA.” (p 1225)

[Learners overworking  …]

“… the results strongly suggest that the majority of first-year students at the institution studied are investing more hours than are designed by teachers, some reaching more than double a full-time workload during the period studied.

“Overwork can be a serious issue and anecdotally students are susceptible in some disciplines, such as computer science, architecture and design, to overwork substantially beyond the expectations and requirements of courses.” (p 1226)

[Students independently assessing workloads? …]

“… students’ sense of workload is influenced by the range of pedagogical contexts and extent of scheduled classes …” (p 1226)

[Time spent is important, but also motivation and self-efficacy …]

“The decision about how much time to devote to course activities is clearly dominated by the assessment demands of courses (correlation r = .67) and by students’ motivation (r = .43). Other pressures such as paid work and family responsibilities were not as significant as individual decisions about how time is used for personal activities, sleep and recreation.

“As to whether the investment of time affects student success, the results show a significant correlation between course hours and grades (0.30; Figure 3), which suggest that investment of time is potentially a contributing factor to student success, consistent with the literature (Kember et al., 1995; Lizzio et al., 2002). Examination of Figure 2 however suggests that time spent cannot be the sole dominant factor, with students at every GPA level reporting high and low course hours worked. The results for the survey scales suggest that motivation and self-efficacy also substantially contribute to success.” (p 1226)

[Careful design of assessments and communication of expected workloads …]

“What does seem clear is the impact that assessment has on the amount of time some students devote to their studies, further reinforcing the well-understood necessity that assessment activities be well-designed to match student effort with the important objectives of the course of study (Angelo, 1983; Chickering & Gamson, 1987). … Assessment workload should not be seen merely in terms of the clear impact such activities have on student time allocation, but analysed carefully for the impact the tasks have on the quality of work and influence we can have on our students’ sense of their future potential.” (p 1227)

[Learners may need more information about assessments and the time they should invest …]

“As DesJardins and Toutkoushian (2005, p. 195) observe ‘rationality does not require decision makers to have perfect information, but rather that they try to make decisions given the information at their disposal’. … an effective strategy likely needs to include mechanisms that result in students being better informed about the implications of their choices, actively influencing their sense of priorities and expectations regarding the effort needed to be successful, in line with the level of influence motivation has in the reported data.” (p 1227)

Selected References

  • Angelo, T. A. (1993). A teacher’s dozen: Fourteen general research-based principles for improving higher learning in our classrooms. AAHE Bulletin, 46(8), 3–7.
  • Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.
  • Chambers, E. (1992). Work-load and the quality of student learning. Studies in Higher Education, 17, 141–153.
  • Chambers, E. (1994). Assessing learner workload. In F. Lockwood (Ed.), Materials production in open and distance learning (pp. 141–153). London: Paul Chapman.
  • Chickering, A. W., & Gamson, Z. (1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. AAHE Bulletin, 40(7), 3–7.
  • Cope, C., & Staehr, L. (2005). Improving students’ learning approaches through intervention in an information systems learning environment. Studies in Higher Education, 30, 181–197.
  • DesJardins, S., & Toutkoushian, R. (2005). Are students really rational? The development of rational thought and its application to student choice. In J. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research (Vol. XX, pp. 191–240). Dordrecht: Springer.
  • Devlin, M., & Gray, K. (2007). In their own words: A qualitative study of the reasons Australian university students plagiarise. Higher Education Research & Development, 26, 181–198.
  • Fox, R., & Radloff, A. (Ed.). (1998). No time for students to learn important skills? Try ‘unstuffing’ the curriculum. Oxford: The Oxford Centre for Staff and Learning Development.
  • Kember, D., Jamieson, Q., Pomfret, M., & Wong, E. (1995). Learning approaches, study time and academic performance. Higher Education, 29, 329–343.
  • Klassen, R. M., & Usher, E. L. (2010). Self-efficacy in educational settings: Recent research and emerging directions. In T. C. Urdan & S. A. Karabenick (Eds.), The decade ahead: Theoretical perspectives on motivation and achievement (advances in motivation and achievement, volume 16) (pp. 1–33). Bingley: Emerald Group.
  • Kreber, C. (2003). The relationship between students’ course perception and their approaches to studying in undergraduate science courses: A Canadian experience. Higher Education Research & Development, 22, 57–75.
  • Lizzio, A., Wilson, K., & Simons, R. (2002). University students’ perceptions of the learning environment and academic outcomes: Implications for theory and practice. Studies in Higher Education, 27, 27–52.
  • Pajares, F., & Urdan, T. C. (2005). Self-efficacy and adolescents. Greenwich, CO: Information Age.
  • Race, P. (1995). What has assessment done for us and to us? In P. Knight (Ed.), Assessment for learning (pp. 61–74). London: Kogan Page.
  • Scheja, M. (2006). Delayed understanding and staying in phase: Students’ perceptions of their study situation. Higher Education, 52, 421–445.
  • Sheard, J., Markham, S., & Dick, M. (2003). Investigating differences in cheating behaviours of IT undergraduate and graduate students: The maturity and motivation factors. Higher Education Research & Development, 22, 91–108.
  • Whitley, B. E. (1998). Factors associated with cheating among college students: A review. Research in Higher Education, 39, 235–274.
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