Study Habits

When the chance finally comes, they are not prepared and are likely to miss a similar shot again. In contrast, a tennis coach can give tennis players repeated opportunities to hit backhand volleys that are progressively more challenging ND eventually integrated into representative match play. However, unlike recreational play, such deliberate practice requires high levels of concentration with few outside distractions and is not typically spontaneous but carefully scheduled (Ericson, 1 996, 2002).

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A tennis player who takes advantage of this instruction and then engages in particular practice activities recommended by the teacher for a couple of hours in deeply focused manner (deliberate practice), may improve specific aspects of his or her game more than he or she otherwise might experience after many years of recreational play. Ericson, Kramer, and Teach-Roomer (1993) proposed that the acquisition of ex’- pert performance was primarily the result of the cumulative effect of engagement in deliberate-practice activities where the explicit goal is to improve particular aspects of performance.

These activities are typically designed by a teacher or by the elite performers themselves when they have reached a sufficiently high level of mastery. The specific goals of deliberate practice and the detailed nature of training activities will differ for a given person from practice session to practice session as it will from one errors to another in a given domain and particularly across domains.

However, the general goal Of all forms of deliberate practice involves improving some aspect of performance in an effective manner and, thus, deliberate practice has a number of pre-requisites, including the capacity to sustain full concentration, a distraction-free environment, and access to necessary training resources. Hence to engage in deliberate practice the aspiring elite performers often need to travel to a training facility and to schedule the practice activity to assure the ability to sustain concentration during E. A. Plant et al.

Contemporary Educational Psychology 30 (2005) 96-1 16 99 the daily practice activity (Ericson, 1 996, 2002, AAA). Ericson et al. (1993) and Ericson (1 996, 2002, AAA) demonstrated that the attained level of an individual?s performance is closely related to the reported amount of deliberate practice, primarily solitary practice focused on improvement, that he or she has accumulated since the introduction to a domain, such as chess (Chariness, Kramer, & Marry, 1 996), sports (Ericson, 2001, AAA, Bibb; Helsel, Starkest, & Hodges, 1 998; Starkest, Decking, Lard, Hodges, & Hayes, 1996), and music (Ericson et al. 993; Kramer & Ericson, 1996; Lehmann & Ericson, 1996; Sailboard, 1996). In studies of college education, similar evidence has been accumulated for differential effectiveness of various learning activities. Inspired by Crack and Outliving¶s (1975) classic work on depth of processing, Schemes and Grove (1979) found that college students with above average Gaps differed from students with below average grades in their reports of cognitive processes mediating their learning.

The students with higher Gaps were found to endorse more inventory items about elaborative encoding and deep analysis and synthesis, but were not found to fifer in their endorsement of traditional study and learning methods from the students with lower Gaps. In fact, they found that students? endorsement of traditional study was negatively related to their academic assessment tests (ACT).

More recent research on effective learning (for reviews see Pinprick, 2000; Pestilence & Plinking, 2001 ; Zimmerman, 2000) has explored successful students¶ reports of the regulation of learning activities and the study environment within educational settings. For example, Zimmerman and Bandeau (1994) showed that self-efficacy (as rated by college dents) and grade expectations predicted grades in a writing class. Bandmasters, Pinprick, and Badgering (1996) found that college students with low, medium, and high course grades differed in their reported learning characteristics for social and natural science but not humanities courses.

Specifically, Bandmasters et al. (1996) showed that high achievers in social and natural science had more domain-specific knowledge, more adaptive motivational beliefs, and better self-regulation. More recently Zimmerman (1998, 2002) has developed a general framework for self-regulation in studying. He demonstrated close parallels between effective activities in studying in academic settings and self-regulated practice in the development of expert performance in many domains of expertise (Ericson, 1996, 2002, AAA, Bibb).

The current paper seeks to identify observable indicators of effective learning activities in the complex domain of academic performance in a university setting by extending the theoretical frameworks of deliberate practice and self-regulated learning. We propose that distinctions between deliberate practice and other types of practice can be applied to studying and hat this distinction can, at least in part, explain why measures combining all types of study activities in the school system are not valid predictors of grades.

Furthermore, we propose a few observable indicators that would reveal active efforts by some of the students to plan study activities in environments that are conducive to deliberate practice and self-regulated study activities in college. Of particular interest are learning activities reflecting deliberate and self-regulated practice that are related to increased performance (GAP). However, in addition to factors that are hypothesized to remote the quality of study, there are numerous other factors in the college environment that also influence GAP 100 and performance across a wide range of academic subjects (e. . , prior knowledge of subject, skills, and cognitive abilities). Therefore, our approach focuses on measuring a wide range of factors important for academic performance, so that we can statistically control for these factors and eventually estimate the relationship between study time and academic performance. 1 . 2. Toward a model of factors that determine grades during a semester In college Common measures of performance in college are the emulated GAP or the GAP for a given semester. These measures are averages of course grades, which are likely determined by two types of factors.

The first type can be measured prior to the start of a targeted semester, such as the knowledge, abilities, and skills that had been acquired prior to the start of the semester. The second group of factors consists of the concurrent study and the learning and non-learning activities that take place during the semester. We consider each of these types of factors in turn. 1 . 2. 1 . Factors reflecting conditions prior to the start of a semester Previously acquired knowledge, skills, and stable abilities relevant to a given course will directly affect performance on tests and the final examination.

These factors will also have an indirect impact by influencing the amount and type of new learning that is necessary during the semester for a student to reach a given level of mastery. Based on a large body of research, the best measures of basic cognitive skills and abilities and prior learning are SAT scores, high- school GAP, and prior grades in college (e. G. , Allen et al. , 1972; Groaner Lawmakers & Zulu, 2000; Henries, 1972; Schuman et al. , 1985). Allen teal. (1972), for example, found that high school rank was a better predictor of GAP than study time or test anxiety.

Standardized assessments of aptitude such as SAT and ACT scores are also predictive of performance in college (Gardner Lawmakers & Zulu, 2000; Henries, 1 972; Schuman et al. , 1985). One might argue that the single best variable summarizing this information would be the cumulative GAP for college at the time of the start of the relevant semester. However, this measure also reflects many stable characteristics concerning quality and quantity of past study behaviors that re likely to be continued into the current semester. . 2. 2. Factors reflecting effective study during a semester If the goal is to predict GAP and cumulative GAP for students, it is necessary to focus on information that students are capable of reporting accurately from memory about the entire current semester. Although it would be fascinating if students were willing to report their detailed study processes for every hour of study during the semester, it would be virtually impossible to validate this information, particularly retrospectively.

Consequently, we chose to focus on observable heartsickness of activities that students actively initiated to influence not only the amount of study time but also the quality of study. Based on the deliberate-practice framework, effective learning requires high levels of concentration and focus on the study activities (Ericson, 1996, 2002; Ericson et 1993). As a result, studying should be more 101 effective if it takes place in environments that allow full concentration (Zimmerman, 1998, 2002).

Whereas some students may walk over to the library to study alone, others may study with friends and in settings with many potential distracted. However, studying is more likely to reach a quality consistent with deliberate practice and slaughtered academic learning if students schedule studying activities at suitable times and in locations where they would be unlikely to be interrupted and distracted. Consistent with this argument, when researchers have taken steps to assess distractions or interruptions to studying they are typically successful in predicting academic performance.

For example, Michaels and Mattie?s (1989) found that studying with the radio and TV was associated with a lower GAP Henries (1972) found that the amount of effective study time (I. . , the number of uninterrupted minutes spent studying) predicted GAP. In addition, Allen et al. (1972) found that the number of interruptions that students reported during studying was negatively correlated with GAP. These findings suggest that students interested in excelling in school might be well served by choosing study environments with a low probability of distraction (e. . , studying alone in the library). We argue that such study environments are more likely to foster the kind of concentration and focus necessary for effective learning (I. E. , deliberate practice and self-regulated learning). Based on research on expert musicians and other elite performers, we know that engagement in deliberate practice is not generally spontaneous but that future expert performers habitually practice at regularly scheduled times (Ericson, 1996, 2002).

The factors that control engagement in deliberate practice thus differ from the unplanned and spontaneous engagement in more enjoyable and effortless activities, such as leisure activities with friends (Ericson et al. , 1993). The need for sustained concentration, appropriate environment, and sufficiently long uninterrupted time intervals for deliberate practice requires Eng-term time budgeting and active procrastination. Therefore, given the competing demands for time in college, deliberate practice among college students would require active planning of their time.

Similarly, self-regulated, effective learning is argued to require careful forethought and planning (Zimmerman, 1998, 2002). Consistent with these propositions, Britton and Tester (1991) argued that because of the multiple demands on students? time, careful planning of time is critical to success. They believe that good organization and goal setting (I. E. , planning activities a week or more in advance) created a more focused approach to studying and more efficient monitoring of goal accomplishment. Such focus and monitoring are critical to deliberate practice.

Consistent with their theorizing, they found that self- management practices such as proportioning tasks were predictive of college students? Gaps even when controlling for their SAT scores (also see Groaner Lawmakers & Zulu, 2000). In order for students to engage in the high quality of study necessary for deliberate practice, it is also important that students expend the effort to come to the classes and attend a large percentage of them. It is in the classroom where students receive instruction regarding what information and skills need to be studied and practiced for high levels of performance.

Therefore, it is expected that a high level of attendance is required for optimal quality of studying. In addition, other demands or draws for students? time tend to influence the use of available time and, likely, energy 102 for studying. For example, students who work for pay for a large number of hours each week will have fewer hours available for studying and less freedom to choose when to study. As a result, instead of selecting study time eased on motivation and level of energy, people working many hours for pay may be left with fewer options for when to study (e. G. Late at night, between classes), which may lead to less effective and less focused studying. Similarly, students who choose to spend extensive time partying may also limit the available time for studying as well as the quality of their study time. 1. 3. The current study The current study examines those factors likely to indicate the high quality of study among college students, endemic to deliberate practice and self-regulated learning, in hopes that it will help to clarify the relationship teens study time and GAP Specifically, the current study examined a range of factors reflecting conditions prior to the current academic semester (I. . , high-school GAP SAT scores) as well as factors from the current semester (I. E. , study time, study environment, and planning) and attempted to predict college performance both cumulatively and for a current semester. First, we assessed the relationship between estimated study time and cumulative GAP. We then controlled for previous performance in high school, college, and on standardized aptitude tests before examining the effects of factors from the rent semester, including those related to quality of study on college GAP.

Once previously acquired knowledge, skills, and abilities are statistically controlled, we predict that factors related to quality and quantity of study would emerge as predictors of college GAP. Therefore, in the current study, participants were asked about a range of their activities in order to gain a detailed picture of the characteristics as well as quantity of their study behavior. Across the factors assessed in the current study, we focused on objective and verifiable information, such as official university records (e. . , GAP, SAT scores).

We selected quantifiable assessments that are verifiable in principle and minimally subjective. For example, the time spent studying in the library, attendance to classes, participation in parties, and outside employment can be validated in future studies by direct observation and interviews of close friends and roommates. We also collected information about studying and other activities in diaries. Similar methods have been used to validate concurrent and ret A ” respective estimates of deliberate practice (Cote, Ericson, & Beamer, 2004; Ericson et al. 1993; Kramer & Ericson, 1996). By examining a large range of factors simultaneously, the current work allows us to identify those factors that provide an independent contribution to grade point average. We anticipated that students, who reported studying behaviors that reflect important aspects of deliberate practice (I. E. , focused, uninterrupted, and carefully planned) (Ericson, 1996, 2002, AAA; Ericson et al. , 1 993) and characteristics theoretically related to self-regulated learning (Zimmerman, 1998, 2002), would excel.

Specifically, based on the findings regarding deliberate practice and the review of the iterative on academic performance and self-regulated learning, we anticipated E. A. Plant et al. / Contemporary Educational Psychology 30 (2005) 96?1 16 103 that students who studied in a quiet environment with fewer distractions and who carefully organized their study time would achieve higher performance. Further, we expected that students who attended a large percentage of classes and had fewer outside competing demands for their time and energy, such as working for pay or frequently attending parties, would have higher Gaps. Finally, when other factors that may influence the quality of study time (e. . , study environment, planning) are taken into account, we predicted that the amount of reported study time would emerge as a predictor of academic performance. 2. Method 2. 1. Participants Participants were 88 volunteer, undergraduate college students (49% male) from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida. Participants were required to have completed at least 1 year or 24 credit hours at the university (mean credit hours = 58. 52, SD = 27. 39) to insure that there were enough credit hours to produce a meaningful GAP.

Participants were drawn from classes in the departments of Psychology and Education as well as from sports teams at the university. The mean age of the participants was 19. 82 years (SD = 1. 19). All participants signed informed consent documents and release forms for their official university records. 2. 2. Procedure Participation took place in group sessions (typically 15-20 students) in classrooms at the university. Participants were given a packet of materials including a Time Allocation and Academic Performance questionnaire, seven time log forms, and seven stamped and addressed envelopes.

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