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External and Internal Barriers to Studying Can Affect Student Success and Retention in a Diverse Classroom

    Author: Laurence Clement1
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    Affiliations: 1: University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143
    AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION AUTHOR AND ARTICLE INFORMATION
    • Published 02 December 2016
    • ©2016 Author(s). Published by the American Society for Microbiology.
    • [open-access] This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/ and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/legalcode), which grants the public the nonexclusive right to copy, distribute, or display the published work.

    • Corresponding author. Mailing address: University of California, San Francisco, 1675 Owens St, Suite 310, San Francisco, CA 94143. Phone: 415-502-3097. Fax: 415-514-0844. E-mail: Laurence.clement@ucsf.edu.
    Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 351-359. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1077
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    Abstract:

    Although a majority of under-represented minority (URM) students begin their postsecondary education at community colleges, little is known about barriers to success and retention for transfer-bound science students. This study focuses on some of the barriers that affect these students’ ability to study adequately for a community college “gateway” course. It tests whether instructors’ expectations of study time were realistic for community college students and whether students reported facing external barriers, such as job and family responsibilities, or internal barriers to studying, such as lack of motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive abilities, all of which have been shown to impact academic success and retention. It also tests whether students who faced such barriers were less likely to succeed in and complete the course, as well as whether time spent studying was related to course success. The findings reported here show that community college students do not have enough available time to study and that external and internal barriers are both prevalent among these students. In addition, students who faced such barriers are more likely to fail or drop the class. Results also show that study time is positively correlated with retention, but not performance, as well as with some motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive dimensions of self-regulated learning. These findings lead to new questions, including whether student success in a community college class is associated with the use of cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies for students with no prior degrees, and whether increased course structure may improve success for college students with lower self-regulated abilities.

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References & Citations

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/content/journal/jmbe/10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1077
2016-12-02
2017-05-29

Abstract:

Although a majority of under-represented minority (URM) students begin their postsecondary education at community colleges, little is known about barriers to success and retention for transfer-bound science students. This study focuses on some of the barriers that affect these students’ ability to study adequately for a community college “gateway” course. It tests whether instructors’ expectations of study time were realistic for community college students and whether students reported facing external barriers, such as job and family responsibilities, or internal barriers to studying, such as lack of motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive abilities, all of which have been shown to impact academic success and retention. It also tests whether students who faced such barriers were less likely to succeed in and complete the course, as well as whether time spent studying was related to course success. The findings reported here show that community college students do not have enough available time to study and that external and internal barriers are both prevalent among these students. In addition, students who faced such barriers are more likely to fail or drop the class. Results also show that study time is positively correlated with retention, but not performance, as well as with some motivational, cognitive, and metacognitive dimensions of self-regulated learning. These findings lead to new questions, including whether student success in a community college class is associated with the use of cognitive and metacognitive learning strategies for students with no prior degrees, and whether increased course structure may improve success for college students with lower self-regulated abilities.

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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1

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FIGURE 1

Student reports of expected, available, and actual study time. Student estimates of expected, available and actual study time do not match instructors’ recommended study time. Percentage of total responses to study time survey questions: how much time students thought they be studying for this class each week (estimate of class expectations, black bars), how much time they to study (available study time, grey bars) and how much time they studying (actual study time, white bars). Students were given four options: fewer than two hours per week, two to four hours, five to seven hours, more than seven hours. *Instructor estimate.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 351-359. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1077
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Image of FIGURE 2

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FIGURE 2

Perceived barriers, success, and retention. Students who perceive external and internal barriers are more likely to fail or drop the class. Percentage of respondents in groups 1, 2, and 3 who passed, failed (with a D or an F), or dropped the course at any time in the first 12 weeks of class. GP 1: no perceived barriers (chose option 1 exclusively in survey depicted in Table 2 , white bars); GP 2: perceived external barriers (chose options 2 or 3 exclusively, grey bars); GP 3: perceived internal barriers (chose option 5 exclusively, black bars). GP = group.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 351-359. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1077
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Image of FIGURE 3

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FIGURE 3

Study time and course success. Study time is related to retention but not to success in the class. Percent Pass (P), Fail (F), and Withdrawal (W) rates according to reported study times. P: passed the course with a C or above (black bars); F: failed the course (D or F, grey bars); W: dropped before the 12 week of class (white bars). Spearman’s rho correlation coefficient: −0.032, 0.745, 108.

Source: J. Microbiol. Biol. Educ. December 2016 vol. 17 no. 3 351-359. doi:10.1128/jmbe.v17i3.1077
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