A Self-regulated Learning Intervention for Developmental Mathematics Students at a Community College: Effects of Study Journals on Achievement and Study Habits



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Self-regulated learners continually monitor and adjust the learning process through a recursive loop of forethought, learning enactment, and reflection. The literature review for this study used a systematic approach with defined criteria to evaluate the effects of self-regulated learning interventions for college students. The review revealed a shortage of rigorous achievement-based research in authentic settings.

This study evaluated a study-journaling intervention for developmental mathematics students at a large urban community college. Two weekly study journal worksheets were designed, based on self-regulated learning theory. In each of nine pairs of intact classes, one class was randomly assigned to the treatment (study journal) condition and the other to control.

The mixed methods research design had two strands: a confirmatory strand that evaluated the intervention?s effect, and an exploratory strand that sought information about the students? study habits. The statistical analysis had two phases: propensity score matching to strategically trim the groups so they had similar distributions of starting characteristics, and logistic regression to estimate the intervention?s effect on binary variables representing course success and final exam success. Departing students were counted among the unsuccessful.

Due to implementation shortcomings, the original sample (117 treatment, 140 control) was replaced by a modified sample (60 treatment, 77 control). Propensity score matching trimmed this sample further (54 treatment, 54 control). Control students experienced significantly higher course success rates and slightly higher final exam success rates. Treatment students were significantly more likely to leave the class than control students (odds ratio 2.94). However, qualitative data from focus groups and surveys indicated the study journals may have positively affected study habits. Taken together, the qualitative and quantitative results suggest the intervention increased students? awareness of study habit inadequacies and time constraints. This position was supported by qualitative analysis of the study journal entries.

This study shows that study journals have potential to improve achievement. However, caution is advised, as the journals may also influence students to leave the class due to increased awareness of problems. Research recommendations include combining study journals with training, feedback or peer support; and collecting subsequent-semester data and data on students? reasons for departure.