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The Role of Noncognitive Traits in Undergraduate Study Behaviours

  • Liam Delaney

    (Geary Institute, University College Dublin)

  • Colm Harmon

    (Geary Institute, University College Dublin)

  • Martin Ryan

    (Geary Institute, University College Dublin)

Undergraduate study behaviours, principally lecture attendance and additional study, are shown to predict better student achievement by many researchers. Despite this, there is not much evidence on the determinants of these behavioural inputs. This is the first paper to explore the determinants of study behaviours across multiple subject areas; and is the first to incorporate students’ noncognitive traits into such a model, that the authors are aware of. As the authors collected the data across seven universities using a web-survey, it is possible to eliminate class-room selection bias and to control for class-room characteristics. This means that account is taken of any micro-level factors that have arisen in prior class-room studies. The results show that students’ noncognitive traits, in particular conscientiousness and future-orientation, are important determinants of lecture attendance and additional study hours. In fact, there is very little that explains undergraduate study behaviour besides noncognitive traits. Standard economic factors, such as family income, financial aid and parental transfers, are not predictive of study behaviours. Some comments are provided on a potential behavioural economics approach to encouraging study behaviours.

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Paper provided by Geary Institute, University College Dublin in its series Working Papers with number 201132.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: 08 Nov 2011
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucd:wpaper:201132
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