Annual Conference of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) edition:44 location:Tampere, Finland date:12-15 September 2016
It seems reasonable that the more time students spend on studying, the better their grades are. Unfortunately, the results of studies which used study time as a predictor for academic achievement are inconsistent. This paper has two aims: 1) Gain insight into the study time of engineering students, its relationship to academic achievement, learning strategies, and student characteristics; 2) Examine if students obtain the study time allocated in the curriculum.
Undergraduate students from Bridging programmes (BR) in Engineering Technology (ET) on three campuses of KU Leuven participated in the study, as well as students from the Bachelor’s (BA), Master’s (MA) and Bridging programmes in Bioengineering Technology (BioET) at KU Leuven.
Time use was registered by the students using an online application. At seven intervals during the first term of academic year 2015-2016, students were asked to estimate the number of minutes they had spent on each course over the past weeks. Students made separate estimates of class attendance, time spent working on assignments, and time spent studying.
Students in initial programmes invested less time in their studies than students in advanced programmes, and the reported study effort in Bachelor programmes was also lower than the allocated study load. In Bridging and Master’s programmes, on the other hand, average study time corresponded to the assigned ECTS. In all programmes, students reported a relatively steady study load during the first months. Spending time on studies did, however, reach higher importance when the examination drew near. Analysing the relationship between types of study activities suggests that learning does not imply a trade-off within the limited time available, but rather that one activity might provide incentives for the other. With regard to total study time, results were too inconsistent to provide a reliable predictor of short term academic achievement. Strengths and limitations of the current study are covered, as well as recommendations for study time measurements in general and for future research.