The Relationship between Secondary Student Learning Behaviours and Study Strategies

Year: 2019

Author: Byers, Terry

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The ability for students to regulate their learner behaviours and use practical study skills are enablers for their academic success and underpin future productivity. There is a plethora of evidence and insights from the university context, with interventions focused on equipping students with these behaviours and skills to achieve their learning goals. Typically these interventions are focused on first-year students, to support those experiencing academic difficulty or failure to mediate student attrition. Even though these support programs focus on and develop student understanding and use of more efficient and effective techniques, studies have found a tendency for students to stick with familiar, low-utility strategies – typically cramming, re-reading and summarising or rewriting notes (Dunlosky, Rawson, Marsh, Nathan, & Willingham, 2013; Hartwig & Dunlosky, 2012). One could argue from this evidence, that the current timing of these interventions during the first year of university study is too late. Many appear to react to academic difficulty and failure, rather than a proactive focus on improving preparedness.

The presentation, the first stage of a much larger and longitudinal study, will outline the intent and initial impact of the earlier intervention in a secondary schooling context. It will report on one school’s attempt to understand better student learning behaviours and study skills and how they evolve through their academic journey. The analysis highlighted how student self-efficacy and regulation of behaviours affected their application and use of various study strategies. In turn, this potential relationship appeared to correlate with how students viewed themselves as a learner and the self-assessment of their preparedness and anxiety around assessment. From this understanding, it built a bespoke study skills toolkit and instituted various translations mechanisms within a large student sample (n > 1100). It will discuss if, and how, student learning behaviours changed (or not) when presented with and supported in the application of, more efficient and effective study strategies. It will also identify those unforeseen factors, beyond the initial focus on the intervention, that appeared to mediate the translation of the strategy by individual students. Importantly, it will discuss critical behavioural, contextual and personal factors that mediate the ability and desire of students to change from existing practices, while, others continue with behaviours considered ineffective. From this understanding, it is hoped that schools will be better able to help students enhance their self-efficacy and resilience in their immediate and longer-term educational journey.