Table of contents
Purpose of the study
Objectives of the study
Overview of the research methodology
Significance of the study
Limitations and delimitations
Structure of the study
CHAPTER 1: Literature Review
CHAPTER 2: Methodology
CHAPTER 3: Results
CHAPTER 4: Discussion
The purpose of this research is to highlight the contribution of study skills to academic competence. It investigates the actual denominators resulting in student’s academic failure, and addresses the issue of students’ non-strategic ways of dealing with academic content. It also identifies scientific evidence-based strategies that are effective in helping students improve their study skills. Over 100 students completed a questionnaire to determine how study skills affect the students’ academic achievements. In this respect, effective evidence-based strategies were grouped into taking notes, planning and organization, focus and concentration, and memory hacks. The research acknowledges the significance of study skills academically for Moulay Ismail University students, professors and administration.
Academic competence is associated with the knowledge and application of effective study skills. Capable students at all grade levels may experience difficulty in school, not because they lack ability, but because they lack good study skills. Although some students develop study skills independently, even normally achieving students may go through school without having acquired effective approaches for studying (Nicaise & Gettinger, 1995).
Implementing study-skills instruction relies on an understanding of the theoretical foundation for teaching and using study skills, as well as knowledge of current research on the effectiveness of study strategies. The purpose of this article is to articulate a theoretical perspective on the contribution of study skills to academic competence, and to identify evidence-based strategies that are effective in helping students study.
Consistent with the model of academic competence for this miniseries, study skills are viewed as academic enablers; they function as critical tools for learning. Study skills encompass a range of coordinated cognitive skills and processes that enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of students’ learning (Devine, 1987). According to Hoover and Patton (1995), study skills include the competencies associated with acquiring, recording, organizing, synthesizing, remembering, and using information. These competencies contribute to success in both nonacademic (e.g., employment) and academic settings.
Studying, or the application of study skills, can be distinguished from other forms of school learning that occur under more proscribed conditions, such as teacher-led classroom instruction (Novak & Gowin, 1984; Rohwer, 1984). First, studying is skillful; it requires training and practice with specific techniques that help a learner acquire, organize, retain, and use information. Although students are expected to apply study skills in completing homework or preparing for tests, teachers typically devote little time to providing explicit instruction in such skills (Zimmerman, 1998). Second, studying is intentional.
Effective studying requires not only the knowledge and application of skills, but volition as well. Studying differs from incidental learning in that it is purposeful and requires a deliberate and conscious effort on the part of the student. Third, studying is highly personal and individualized. Whereas classroom learning occurs within a social context through interaction and guidance from others (e.g., peers, teachers), studying is often an individual activity. Even when learning is fostered through a process of social communication, individual study behaviors still play a critical role in academic competence (Damon, 1991; Kucan & Beck, 1997).
Students have the ability to succeed in education; they can analyze concepts, construct consistent arguments, and synthesize ideas into different directions. What they do not have more often or not are the skills they need to use those abilities. In most higher education throughout the world, most professors teach students what to think rather than how to think. Study skills unlock the abilities students have, and facilitate their learning experience. With the inclination of having a better understanding of how learning works, professors, researchers and scientists in the field strived to explore the basic components for an effective academic experience. Students were put under supervision and experiments, which allows us today to know what we know.
Due to the increasing number of demotivated students enduring academic failure, I decided to investigate the matter and conduct my research on study skills' contribution to academic proficiency. Students suffered from depression and frustration when it came to their grades, not knowing where the actual problem lays. Hence, I took the responsibility of pointing them to a crucial component of academic success, and that is study skills. I believe that applying study skills to academic content will revolutionize the learning and teaching process. Drawing the attention of more scholars to the field, will bring more evolution to the educational sphere. Study skills has always been my field of interest and conducting a research on its contribution is a dream come true.
Study skills is a highly efficient tool. The implementation of study skills in students' academic career will not only boost their academic achievements, but also train their minds to be strategic. Hundreds of techniques have been developed by scholars in psychology, neuroscience and educational psychology in order to enhance our learning experience. From note-taking and reading, to memorization and exam- stress, all have been covered not only for the sake of facilitating our learning journey, but also to enjoy it. Hence, adopting a study-skills mindset to surmount obstacles is of great importance.
The reality is the majority of students are not even aware of the existence of study skills. They spend most of their time putting the blame on teachers and educational organizations, incognizant of their own deficiency. Yes, some of the blame can definitely go to some faulty assessment and evaluation policies, but what about those who manage to defeat the system and outshine the others anyway? Students' current situation in Moulay Ismail University of Arts and Humanities has been the same for decades now. Only a minority gets to demonstrate excellency, while the majority is prone to depression, not due to their incompetence, but to their lack of study skills.
This is where my research comes into action. Through demonstrating how study skills contributes to academic proficiency, students will be able to feel more optimistic and confident about their own competencies, and hence more motivated to do better. Professors will also be able to understand the challenges faced by students, and provide them with a range of study techniques that cater to their needs. To be more realistic about the aspired achievements of my research, it would be a great accomplishment for me as a novice researcher, if students realized the importance of developing their own study techniques and took it seriously. Improving the students' academic journey even if just a little, will bring about change in the future. A future where more students will be able to find success not only academically, but also in real life.
Purpose of the study
The aim of this paper is to; first demonstrate the salience of study skills to academic competence. Second, investigate the hidden factors behind academic failure. Third, provide students and professors with scientific based strategies that enhance academic performance. Through examining, the performance of students who adopt certain study skills and those who do not, the positive relationship between academic proficiency and good study skills will be established. Put differently, by acknowledging the efficiency of study skills, students will be motivated to try new study skills and enhance their academic achievements.
Objectives of the study
The objectives of the research are:
1. The study introduces an information-processing perspective on the contribution of study skills to academic competence.
2. It identifies evidence-based strategies that are effective in helping students improve their study skills.
3. It raises university students’ awareness concerning the significant role study skills play academically.
4. It illustrates how study skills’ efficiency is associated with positive outcomes across multiple academic content areas and for diverse learners.
1. How does study skills’ affect students’ academic performance in Moulay Ismail University?
2. What are the most effective evidence-based strategies that can help students improve their study skills?
3. Why a study skills’ training is necessary in the classroom?
4. How high achieving students manage to attain academic proficiency?
5. How Low achieving students tend to fail academically?
6. What areas study skills’ encompasses?
Study skills contributes to academic proficiency. As the efficiency of study skills has already been proven by scientific research, a directional hypothesis is most convenient. Hence, The study predicts the strong positive effect of the independent variable "study skills", on the dependent variable" academic proficiency". Meaning, that the study tests the following hypothesis. If high achieving students adopt efficient study skills, low achieving students have poor or no study skills. Therefore, study skills must play a great role in boosting academic achievements.
Overview of the research methodology
A quantitative research approach is fit for this study. The research is primarily descriptive; it suggests a questionnaire based survey and a case study as the major research designs to be addressed. The population is MIU Students, the sample population targeted are third year MIU students of the department of English, and the sampling procedure applied is probability sampling. The sampling process depends heavily on the distribution of a standardized questionnaire to the sample population, and the analysis of the given results.
Significance of the study
The significance of my study resides in the following:
1. Students will learn to learn and enhance their academic metacognitive skills
2. Professors will be presented with various novel techniques that caters to students’ preferences.
3. The administration of moulay Ismail university will be able to re-evaluate its perception and direct its attention to study skills as the key for academiccompetence.
Limitations and delimitations
The limitations of my study can be grouped as follows:
1. Time constraint and limited resources narrowed the findings of the study.
2. The sample population was also restricted due to time constraint, as having enough time would have allowed us to conduct the research in all of the departments of Moulay Ismail university.
The delimitations of the study can be stated as follows:
1. Deliberate consistent work was put into the research, regardless of time restraint.
2. The sample population, though restricted allowed us to attain significant results.
Structure of the study
The research is composed of four chapters, whose general aim is to investigate the contribution of study skills’ to academic competence. The first chapter reviews the existing literature on study skills research and experiments, as well as the major findings in the field of study skills. The second chapter introduces the methodological procedures and research designs that were utilized to elicit data. The third chapter demonstrates the results of the study along with a critical analysis of the variables involved. As for the fourth chapter, a discussion takes place elucidating different perceptions of the study’s findings and implications. Finally, a conclusion of the study is drawn and references are cited in the end.
“Learning” as broad as might the term seem, it is concisely defined by Tony Bingham and Marcia Conner (2011), “ as the transformative process of taking in information that—when internalized and mixed with what we have experienced—changes what we know and builds on what we do. It’s based on input, process, and reflection. It is what changes us.”
“Effective Learning”, although the term ‘effective’ has been widely used, it only makes sense when in context. Effective learning is an active process of involving students in metacognitive processes of planning, monitoring, and reflecting.
“Study skills” are all the study strategies, tactics and mindsets that grant positive outcomes across multiple academic content areas and for diverse learners.
“Academic proficiency” refers to the amount of clarity and mastery students have about various academic concepts. Academic competence is a construct used in the education department in their attempts to improve their teaching efforts and help in the learning process of their students.
CHAPTER 1: Literature Review
Although my research adopts a context type of literature review, it is framed within a narrative approach. we opted for a contextual literature review, for it is the best at situating a topic within a broader framework. This can be demonstrated through the fact that many factors are behind academic proficiency, and study skills is only one of them. Hence adopting a contextual literature review not only improves the study's preciseness, but also allows the researcher to be more focused. Another reason behind embracing this type of literature review is how it narrows and facilitates the scope of the study for the reader. However, applying a narrative approach to my literature review has not been in vain. This approach serves human discourse, more than just accumulating knowledge. Put differently, a narrative literature review helps generate understanding, more than it gathers information. It tries to analyze the already existing data and establishes comprehension of how study skills work. Therefore and according to all the reasons stated above, I integrated a context literature review using a narrative approach.
The chapter provides the necessary background for study skills’ development through history. It builds up a firm ground on which the other chapters stand strong. This chapter introduces different categories of study skills, which can be grouped into repetition or rehearsal based-study skills, procedural or organization based-study skills, cognitive-based study skills, and meta-cognitive based study skills.
What we observe today is that students with low academic achievements often demonstrate ineffective study skills. They passively rely on others and display several cognitive and behavioral traits that support their passivity. For instance, low achieving students often find themselves unable to understand the content, unaware of why they are studying it in the first place and not willing to extend effort beyond simply reading, thus, their studying may be haphazard and disorganized.
An assessment of students with academic problems, based on teacher and parent ratings and self-report, reveals challenges with personal organization as well. They often have difficulty keeping track of materials and assignments, following directions, and completing work on time. Unlike good studiers who employ a variety of study tactics in a flexible yet purposeful manner, low-achieving students use a restricted range of study skills; they cannot explain why good study strategies are important for learning; and they tend to utilize the same, often ineffective, study approach for all learning tasks, irrespective of task content, structure, or difficulty (Decker, Spector, & Shaw, 1992).
An assessment procedure developed by Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1986) has been used to evaluate self-regulatory processes related to effective studying. In this procedure, students are presented with common learning problems and asked how they would respond ( e.g., “Most teachers give tests at the end of a semester to determine grades. Do you have any particular method to prepare for this type of test?”). Students’ open-ended responses are coded into self-regulatory study strategies, such as goal-setting, time management, self-monitoring (85-90% intercoder agreement).
Research using both verbal and written forms of the procedure has documented significant differences in both the quality and quantity of study strategies reported by high versus low achievers (Ley & Young, 1998; Purdie & Hattie, 1996; Purdie, Hattie, & Douglas, 1996; Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1986, 1988, 1990). In one study, for example, high achievers reported significantly greater use of 13 of 14 study strategies, indicating they used them more than twice as often as low achievers (Zimmerman & Martinez-Pons, 1986). In addition, self-reported use of strategies was highly correlated with standardized achievement test performance (r = .61) and homework completion (r = .70), but was found to be factorially separate from verbal ability.
On the MARSI, students rate how frequently they use 30 different study strategies (e.g., “I take notes while reading to help me understand what I’m reading”; “I ask myself questions I like to have answered in the text”). Measures similar to the MARSI, with diverse middle and high school samples, reveal a consistent pattern of limited study skill usage among students who struggle academically. They experience significant difficulty acquiring new information, and report feeling overwhelmed with the amount of material they are expected to learn (Wood, Woloshyn, & Willoughby, 1995). When queried about how they study, students report that they rely heavily on passive strategies such as rote memorization. They tend to memorize details to the exclusion of main ideas, fail to establish goals or priorities when studying, and typically equate the purpose of studying with remembering material just long enough to take a test (Scheid, 1993). When they engage in studying, they do so in long, infrequent sessions. A common test preparation strategy, for example, is to study all material the night before an exam (Jones, Slate, Blake, & Holifield, 1992). Finally, students with weak study skills do not allocate sufficient time to study. When time is devoted to studying, it is often interrupted by friends, daydreaming, music, or poor concentration (Nicaise & Gettinger, 1995).
In sum, research has established that differences between high and low achievers exist quantitatively and qualitatively. Good studiers are most likely to attain academic proficiency. Their understanding of task demands, allows them to implement flexible, effective strategies to succeed academically. Active studiers know how to utilize specific study tactics and understand why, how, and when to use them. Good studiers are not passive recipients of facts and details, they are actively engaged in their own learning, they can prioritize what content is important and how to learn and retain information.
Research has demonstrated the salience of studying for academic success, through the immense efforts that have focused on experimental training studies as a way of engaging study skills. Over the last 20 years, both laboratory- and classroom-based research has provided evidence supporting the effectiveness of study skills to promote academic competence among students. Study skills instruction produces efficient, thoughtful, and independent learners, including students who develop study skills on their own, they are capable of being efficient, and highly productive studiers.
Research indicates that students, indeed, require explicit instruction in study skills; individuals assigned randomly to control conditions tend not to acquire or use study strategies on their own without training (Schunk & Zimmerman, 1994, 1998).A number of different theoretical perspectives support the benefit of equipping students with study skills to enhance their learning and academic competence. The most comprehensive approach to study skills stems from an information-processing model (Adams & Hamm, 1994; Gettinger & Nicaise, 1997; Harvey & Goudvis, 2000; Schunk, 2000).
During the 1980s and 1990s, several study-strategy investigations were carried out in which researchers hypothesized that students who received strategy training would outperform no-training control students on a number of important outcomes, most notably, the level and quality of learning information from text and performance on standardized achievement tests (Bereiter & Bird, 1985; Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001). Strategy-training research is predicated on the belief that students, low achieving as well as normally achieving, can improve their performance on learning tasks if they are taught how to engage in cognitive processing and study skills similar to those used by successful students. Studies have been aimed at either validating single study strategies, such as prediction, content mapping, and mental imagery, or evaluating the coordinated use of multiple study strategies, such as Reciprocal Teaching (Palincsar & Brown, 1984).
Overall, both teacher-guided instruction and self-guided or independent study are proven highly effective in the way information is retained and used accurately. Evidence-based study strategies vary from simple rehearsal techniques to complex operations designed to help with monitoring comprehension. Weinstein and Mayer (1985) presented a useful framework for classifying study strategies within an information-processing framework through using four study skills’ clusters: (a) repetition- or rehearsal-based strategies; (b) procedural or organization-based strategies; (c) cognitive-based strategies; and, (d) metacognitive-based strategies.
Repetition- or rehearsal-based study strategies are procedures that use repetition, rereading and rehearsal as their basic mechanisms to store information. Rehearsal strategies can be used to learn relatively small bits of information for the short term, or when the content being studied is used frequently. For instance, repetition strategies facilitate the learning process when it comes to learning multiplication facts that are used daily in the classroom. Rehearsal strategies are unchallenging, they are easily learnt and applied, and therefore, are among the first study skills taught to young children. Yet from an information-processing perspective, repetition-based study strategies do not manifest an optimum understanding of the rehearsed content. Which clearly explains the ineffectiveness of this strategy as students move beyond elementary school.
There are ways, however, that repetition-based study strategies can be enhanced to promote greater elaboration and deeper processing of information during rehearsal. One strategy for which there is an extensive evidence base is the creation and use of mnemonic devices, especially those involving mental imagery (Gambrell & Bales, 1986; Levin & Levin, 1990; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1990, 1992). Using random-group assignment combined with pre- and post-training assessment, research has shown that academic performance is significantly better when students receive training in creating mental imagery devices, such as keywords, than when they learn a simple rehearsal technique (Bulgren, Hock, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1995; Bulgren, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994; Ferro & Pressley, 1991 ; Fulk, Mastropieri, & Scruggs, 1992; Mastropieri & Fulk, 1990; Scruggs & Mastropieri, 1992). Specifically, students trained in the use of mnemonic strategies have been shown to outperform non-instructed control students in terms of recall of information as well as comprehension of text. In general, the evidence supports three conclusions concerning mnemonic approaches: (a) Control students do not spontaneously use mental-imagery strategies on their own; (b) students can be taught to do so; and (c) implementation of mnemonic strategies has positive effects on performance (Levin, 1993).
Procedural or organization-based study skills is how high achieving students exhibit high efficiency concerning organizational and time management tasks, whereas low achieving students fail to implement competencies including material organization , procedural study skills and developing consistent routine schedules. According to Wong (1994) “Although students may demonstrate an understanding of organizational skills many low-achieving students fail to use them consistently and effectively”. Procedural study skills encompass the behaviors or habits that allow students to maximize the benefits of their study time. A typical problem for students with organizational deficits is the inability to structure their study time and, when necessary, adapt their schedules to provide sufficient time for studying and work completion (Zimmerman, Greenberg, & Weinstein, 1994).
According to Archambeault (1992), organizational routines and schedules for studying are most effective when they are personalized by having students construct their own plans for monthly, weekly, and daily study. The professional literature offers several best-practice guidelines for converting study schedules into actual studying, including: (a) complete difficult work at times when you are most alert and least distracted; (b) divide long assignments into shorter, manageable units; (c) vary the type of study tasks (e.g., intersperse reading with writing activities); and (d) be flexible in scheduling breaks and rescheduling study time if conflicts arise (Gettinger & Nicaise, 1997). Although research has failed to document significant benefits for any single study routine over another, what does contribute to positive outcomes is the consistency with which a study routine is implemented and the extent to which it is personalized or adapted for individual learners (Archambeault, 1992).
Cognitive-based study skill s are set of skills which function as a guidance mechanism for students to appropriately engage in positive motivational thinking. As the information-processing theory acknowledges that, the more information students accumulate, the better they learn. Thus, studying is practically enhanced when meaning is incorporated with an already existing knowledge in the learning process. The students’ integration should also be on the psychological level.Researchers in psychology have recently discovered that there are two types of people, people who think they are in control of their lives, and those are people who have an internal locus of control; others are individuals who victimize themselves all the time , and think that life is just happening to them , and these people have an external locus of control. Thus, the first category will experience eustress, which is vital stress, while the second category will be exposed to distress, which is extreme anxiety.
Metacognitive-based study skills are how students use metacognition in order to reflect on their learning approaches and strategies. Metacognition is the art of thinking about thinking, and investigating the way we learn. The key to metacognition is asking yourself self-reflective questions, which are powerful because they allow us to take inventory of where we currently are, how we learn, and where we want to be .Metacognition helps you to be a self-aware problem solver and take control of your learning. By using metacognition when you study, you can be strategic about your approach. You will be able to take stock of what you already know, what you need to work on, and how best to approach learning new material. Metacognition strategies vary from thinking aloud and verbalizing thoughts in order to be easily deconstructed and analyzed to asking self-reflective questions, and having an introspective understanding of the nature of our thinking.
Being metacognitive is essential for effective studying. Metacognitive ability enables learners to adjust their studying according to varying task demands. Students with well-developed metacognitive skills know how to study effectively; they understand which study strategies to deploy, monitor their studying, and allocate study time wisely. They are familiar with the cognitive strategies that help them study and regulate their use of such strategies (Winne & Hadwon, 1997). Research has demonstrated that training can significantly improve students’ metacognitive abilities (Deshler et al., 1996; Montague, 1992). Whereas cognitive-based study strategies relate to how learners process information, metacognitive strategies relate to how students select, monitor, and use strategies in their repertoire. The importance of metacognitive skills for academic competence is well-documented in the literature (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 1997; Montague, 1998).
The significance of this chapter is demonstrated through scientific evidence based strategies as the major findings in the field. The chapter also paves the way for the methodological part of the research to take place. Advancing the argument that study skills play a crucial role in academic proficiency, the literature review allows us to gain deeper knowledge of study skills’ integration into academic competence.