At-risk at the gate: prediction of study success of first-year science and engineering students in an open-admission university in Flanders—any incremental validity of study strategies?
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Against the background of the increasing need for skilled scientists and engineers, the heterogeneous inflow of incoming students in science and engineering programs is particularly challenging in universities with an open-admission system. The prime objective of the present study is to determine the main academic and non-academic determinants of study success in a STEM study program in the largest university of Flanders (Belgium). The Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI), supplemented with additional background questions, was completed by 1521 first-year science and engineering students at the start of the academic year. To evaluate the incremental value of a particular predictor in explaining first-year GPA, a series of nested regression models were evaluated. Math level and math/science GPA in secondary school were strongly related to first-year GPA. Analysis of the LASSI questionnaire showed that students’ motivation/persistence, concentration, and time management skills at the start significantly influenced student achievement at the end of the first year, although the incremental value over prior achievement was small. Altogether, our results show that incoming students’ ability to regulate their study efforts has beneficial consequences in terms of achievement. Additionally, a negative recommendation by the secondary school teacher board was a clear indicator to identify at-risk students. In open-admission universities wherein new students cannot be formally denied access based on weak prior mathematics and science achievement, a focus on effort-related self-regulatory skills training (e.g., time management sessions) offers valuable opportunities for remedial interventions.
KeywordsAt-risk students STEM Study skills Achievement
This work was supported by the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership programme under Grant 2014-1-BE02- KA200-000462.
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