What determines students' study practices in higher education? An instrumental variable approach

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Alauddin, Mohammad
Ashman, Adrian
Nghiem, Son
Lovell, Knox
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2016
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Abstract

University student populations in the developed world embody more personal, social, cultural, and intellectual diversity than their predecessors a quarter century ago. The existing literature is less clear about dimensions of students’ study practices and how variables that underpin this diversity shape them. This study fills this gap in three ways. First, it develops study practices questionnaire (SPrQ) and gathers student survey data from a leading Australian university. Second, factor analysis explores dimensions within the domain. Third, an econometric model incorporating university entry score as an instrumental variable (IV) investigates key determinants of the dimensions.

Three dimensions (Engagement; Reflection; and Learning Impediments) underpinned study practices domain. University entry score positively affected Engagement. Students aged 20–25 years were more engaged relative to those years. Economics students displayed stronger Engagement. English speaking background (ESB) economics students displayed lower Engagement. Students’ effort positively influenced Engagement. Upper undergraduates demonstrated lower propensity toward Reflection than lower undergraduates. Male, and ESB students faced higher and lower Learning Impediments respectively.

The study has implications for university teaching and learning policies and practices. Instructors can maximize student engagement by demonstrating relevance of theories to real-world, encouraging class discussion, and establishing close links between lecture and tutorial/laboratory sessions and assessments. A school can ensure readier access to learning resources, provide discipline-specific English language support for NESB students, and conduct regular surveys of students’ study practices, taking account of the diversity within the student population. This study provides an opening for continued research within Australia and overseas.

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Economic Analysis and Policy
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51
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Economics
Economics of education
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