The study examined the relative importance of students’ grades from upper secondary school, and student characteristics (self-efficacy, motivation type, study habits and view on mathematics) for predicting achievement of first-year university students in mathematics intensive programs. Furthermore, the predictive importance of these variables at the beginning and at the end of the first year were investigated. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) and Orthogonal Projection to Least Squares (OPLS) analysis were used for the identification of constructs and analysis of the predictive power of the constructs, respectively.
Together, all the variables measured at the beginning of the year predicted 21% of the variation in students grades on the university courses, while they predicted 43% at the end of the course. If grades from upper secondary school were removed from the model, 14% respective 37% could be predicted. Specially, self-efficacy, motivation type, and study habits (in this order) pertaining to their university studies are better predictors than those pertaining to upper secondary school.
Some differences in predictive patterns were found, depending on the level of the students’ mathematical knowledge when entering their university studies. Study habits was shown to be more important for predicting achievement for the third of the students’ with the lowest upper secondary grades than for the other groups. Relying on the textbook and frequent interaction with peers during the university studies predicted 12% of achievement for this group, whereas these aspects were not predictive at all for the groups with intermediate and high grades from upper secondary school.
The European Association for Research on Instruction and Learning (EARLI), 25th-29th of August 2015, Limassol, Cyprus