2009-06: Student Preparedness, Effort and Academic Performance in a Quantitative Business Course (Working paper)

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Cybinski, Patricia J.
Forster, J.
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Nguyen, Tom


36 pages

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Of the many factors influencing academic performance, the student's personal inputs to learning are recognised as among the most critical. Some of these inputs are the focus of this study of performance in an introductory statistics course. The individual student's inputs that are hypothesised to be central to academic performance are effort, ability and relevant prior training. Ability and training are necessarily fixed at the commencement of any course, with only effort potentially under the student's control during the course. Effort is not directly observable and the use of selfreporting of personal actions is widely recognised as problematic. Consequently in this paper effort is measured by (voluntary) attendance, although it is recognised that attendance is only one part of a student's engagement with the course content. Ability and prior training are jointly measured as a single score from a simple numeracy test administered at the start of the course. We found that individual students' scores on this test, as well as their levels of attendance, were strongly related to academic success in the course. These results allow a discussion of the impact of student engagement, closely related to effort and specifically to attendance. Changes in universities and society over the past two decades have tended to reduce student engagement, and the longer-term consequences of changes designed to facilitate learning may be the opposite of those intended. Methodological problems involved in this and similar studies are discussed at greater length than is usual.

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Copyright © 2010 by author(s). No part of this paper may be reproduced in any form, or stored in a retrieval system, without prior permission of the author(s).

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Economics and Business Statistics

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A20 - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics: General

A29 - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics: Other

Student attendance

Student performance

Business and management curriculum

Introductory statistics course

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