Not all students who did well in high school are successful in college, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors with the most affected student groups including women, first-generation or historically disadvantaged students. Certain study skills may be associated with greater success in college, yet these skills may be less regularly used by those underrepresented groups.
This paper reports the results of a survey given to several hundred newly-matriculated students before they began their first courses at a selective, public research university in the United States. Students in nine courses responded to the survey, with 1815 total respondents. Logistic regression and linear mixed effects models were used to analyze the data.
We found three skills were associated with course grade when adjusting for incoming GPA, SAT math and reading and GPA of other courses. Self-testing and rereading were both associated with increased grades, and flashcard use was associated with decreased grades. Of particular significance, underrepresented minority (URM) students were less likely to reread than majority students, and flashcard use was more common in women and URM students.
It is possible study skills changed over the course of the term because participants were surveyed at the beginning of their courses. Our future work will expand the courses surveyed and include a post-course survey.
Information that some student groups use less effective study skills will allow instructors and student support services to provide more targeted and useful study strategy advice.
The authors would like to thank Dr. Ramesh Arasasingham, Dr. Theresa McIntire, Dr. Reginald Penner, Dr. Ana Muniz, Dr. William Branch, Dr. Nilopa Shah, Dr. Rachel Baker, Dr. Shannon Alfaro, Dr. Rachel Lehman and Dr. Christine Lofgren for allowing us to implement the surveys in their courses. Author Contributions: All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Data collection was performed by Brian K Sato. Statistical analyses were performed and the statistics section of the Methods written by Kameryn Denaro. The manuscript was written by Adrienne Williams and all authors commented on previous versions of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.
Williams, A.E., Denaro, K., Dennin, M.B. and Sato, B.K. (2021), "A survey of study skills of first-year university students: the relationships of strategy to gender, ethnicity and course type", Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 446-465. https://doi.org/10.1108/JARHE-10-2019-0272
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