Paper for PedR meeting: The effect of time-on-task on student grades and grade expectations

We often look at papers at our Pedagogic Research Group meetings, and this month Jon Scott suggested we look at:

Darrell W. Guillaume; Crist Simon Khachikian (2009) The effect of time-on-task on student grades and grade expectations Pages 251 – 261 DOI: 10.1080/02602930903311708

The paper attempts to correlate a students expectations of the grade they will get for a course with the actual result they achieve. It also examines the time they spend on the course.

the authors attempted to answer three questions on the ‘link between attitude, time-on-task and performance:

  1. Does a positive attitude imply that students will devote more time to a course or do students deceive themselves about their abilities/commitment to the course at the beginning of each term?
  2. Does more time-on-task always imply more success?
  3. Which group of students (e.g. ‘A’ students, ‘B’ students, etc.) spends more time-on-task and how does their dedication fluctuate throughout the term?’ (Guillaume & Khachikian, 2009, p.252)

The authors used six large classes of engineering students and data collection was via a self-reported questionnaire (e.g. how much time have you been spending on preparing for each lecture in this class? hours/week) at set points through the courses.

The authors observed from their data that:

  1. Most students believe they will earn an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ in a course during the first week of the term. This prediction is independent on the students’ overall GPA.
  2. Students seem to believe that time-on-task is correlated to performance,though the data indicate otherwise.
  3. Performance in any one quarter does not correlate to performance in a subsequent quarter.
  4. Since there is a strong correlation between the final grade earned during a course and the students’ overall GPA, we believe that course grades earned during these terms are typical representations of the students’ grade earning capabilities. (ibid p. 259)

My responses would be:

1. Americans are perhaps much more optimistic than British students, but I think that this is probably true of many students here. I see lots of this optimism on Friend Feed with our first years.

2. It is human nature to think that time spent equates exactly with output quality and quantity. It has taken me years to realise it doesn’t! This is something that these students have yet to learn. How do we teach students this? (the authors comment that they want students to work smarter not harder)

3. The value of your degree can go up as well as down. A good student can have bad days, is that all that this is saying?

4. The fact that there is a correlation between final grade and overall GPA seems rather obvious given that the score for this course is part of the GPA.

Finally, the authors make an interesting point about the C grade students not being able to sustain their interest or time commitment to the second half of the course as outside pressures or other courses demand their time.

How do we transfer the good time management and productivity skills of the A grade students to the B and C grade students?





One thought on “Paper for PedR meeting: The effect of time-on-task on student grades and grade expectations”

  1. “How do we transfer the good time management and productivity skills of the A grade students to the B and C grade students?”

    Maybe “we” can’t. Maybe that’s why they’re B and C grade students.

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