Background: There is an established body of research that links various forms of motivation to academic achievement. It has further been documented that students' engagement in educational activities is moderated by motivation and self-regulatory processes, and levels of the latter processes have been shown to be associated with outcome measures of effort, persistence, choice, and achievement. Because of these apparent connections, study skills courses are often provided in universities and other tertiary institutions to ameliorate student problems in motivation, self-regulation, and achievement. However, the effectiveness of such courses, as well as the mechanisms by which they may work, have not been sufficiently examined in research. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to assess the impact of a study skills course on students' levels of motivation and self regulation, and ultimately their academic achievement. The main research questions were: (1) Do students who attend study skills courses differ from those who do not in their levels of motivation and self regulation? (2) Do students who participate in such courses evidence change in their levels of motivation and self regulation? (3) Does completion of study skills courses contribute to better academic outcomes? Method: Three hundred and seventeen students (241 female, 76 male), predominantly from social science and education disciplines, volunteered to participate in this study. The students were asked to complete a demographic survey and the Learning and Study Skills Strategies Inventory (LASSI) at the beginning and at the end of an academic semester. A study skills course was offered to all these students, andcomparisons were subsequently made between those who participated in the course and those who did not. In addition, with their permission, academic grades were obtained for all the students. Results: Statistical analyses incorporating a hierarchical regression procedure revealed a number of significant findings. With regard to attendance of the study skills course, significant correlations were found with the students' scores on the LASSI attitude (ATT) scale and their age. With regard to the academic grades obtained by the students, significant correlations were found with attendance of the course, the students' age, and changes in the LASSI ATT and motivation (MOT) scales. Older students who attended the course evidenced improvements in the LASSI information processing (INP), selecting main ideas (SMI), and use of study aids (STA) scales. A comparison of the students according to their attendance of the course also revealed that those who did not attend subsequently evidenced increases in their scores on the LASSI anxiety (ANX) scale and decreases in their scores on the STA and self testing (SFT) scales. Discussion and Conclusion: The findings indicate that students who possessed better attitudes and interest in academic success, and those who were older, were more likely to attend the study skills course. In turn, students who attended the course, and those who were older, achieved better grades. Better grade achievement could therefore be partly explained by the better attitudes that attendees bring to their studies, as well as possibly the experience and maturity in outlook of the older students leading them to apply more of the study techniques advised in the course. Finally, indications of some deterioration in anxiety and application of study techniques among those who did not attend the study skills course - not observed among those who attended the course - suggest a more stable management of the demands of tertiary education among the latter group. In conclusion therefore, the findings of this research suggest that both the attitude and maturity that students bring to their studies, as well as input from study skills courses, have significant impact on grade achievement.
|Title of host publication||Handbook on Psychology of Motivation: New Research|
|Publisher||Nova Science Publishers, Inc.|
|Number of pages||17|
|Publication status||Published - 2012 Oct|
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