THE IMPACT OF STUDY SKILLS COURSES ON
ACADEMIC SELF-EFFICACY IN COLLEGE STUDENTS
Brenna M. Wernersbach, Susan Crowley, and Carol Rosenthal - Utah State University
presented at the Utah University & Counseling Centers Conference, Park City, UT, October 29, 2010
Introduction
The drive to retain students has led many colleges and universities to
implement study skills courses and workshops designed to help
academically underprepared students succeed. The effectiveness of
many of these programs in increasing student GPA and retention has
been supported in previous research. However, the impact of these
programs on academic self-efficacy, another predictor of academic
success, has not been investigated.
The present study examined pre-post levels of academic self-efficacy in
students enrolled in a study skills course compared to students enrolled
in a general education course. In addition, the predictive power of
academic self-efficacy on academic outcome and retention into the
following semester was assessed.
Method
►Participants (n = 237)
 Groups
 Academically underprepared (n = 111)
 Comparison students (n = 126)
 Gender
 Academically underprepared: F = 55, M = 56
 Comparison students: F = 84, M = 42
 Age
 Academically underprepared: mean 22.49 (sd = 5.92)
 Comparison students: mean 20.02 (sd = 2.89)
►Measures
 Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ).
 Self-report measure (81 Likert scale items), 15 scales that may
be used collectively or independently
 Two relevant scales:
 The Self-Efficacy for Learning and Performance (8 items)
Assess student expectancy for task specific success as
well as evaluations of personal ability and skill in
performing said task
 The Control of Learning Beliefs Scale (4 items)
Assess student beliefs that outcomes are contingent on
personal effort, rather than teacher variables or “luck.”
 College Self-Efficacy Inventory (CSEI).
 Self-report measure (20 Likert scale items), 3 scales that may
be used collectively or independently
 Two relevant scales:
 Academic Self Efficacy Scale (7 items)
Belief in ability to write a course paper, do well on exams,
etc.
 Social Self Efficacy Scale (8 items)
Belief in ability to ask a question in class, talk to professors,
etc.
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Discussion
Results
Research Question 1:
Independent t-test for differences between academically underprepared and
comparison students
Is there a statistically significant difference in levels of academic self-efficacy
between students enrolled in study skills courses and those who are not at
the beginning and/or end of the semester?
Scale
t
p
Cohen’s d
Pre-Academic SE
-2.167
.03
.29*
Post-Academic SE
1.232
.22
.16
Pre-Social SE
-1.103
.27
.14
Post-Social SE
0.951
.34
.12
Pre-SE Learning & Performance
1.496
.10
.20
Post-SE Learning & Performance
4.322
<.001
.57*
Pre-Control of Learning Beliefs
-1.636
.10
.21*
Post-Control of Learning Beliefs
1.373
.17
.18
CSEI
On the CSEI there was a significant difference between groups on the Academic
Self-Efficacy scale at pre-test with academically underprepared students scoring lower
than comparison students. There were no statistically significant differences on the
Academic Self-Efficacy scale at post-test, nor were there any significant differences on the
Social Self-Efficacy scale at either time period. Thus, academically underprepared
students increased their self-efficacy over the duration of the course, moving them to a
level similar to the comparison students.
On the MSLQ there was a statistically significant difference between the two groups
on the Self-Efficacy for Learning and Performance scale at post-test with academically
underprepared students scoring higher than comparison students. There were no
statistically significant differences on this scale at pre-test. There were no significant
differences found on the Control of Learning Beliefs scale at either time period.
MSLQ
Implications
Note: *indicates medium effect size (Cohen’s d = 0.2-0.8); **indicates large effect size (Cohen’s d > 0.8).
Research Question 2:
Does study skills course participation result in a change in academic
self-efficacy as measured at the beginning and the end of the course?
Do such academically underprepared students demonstrate greater
changes in level of academic self-efficacy in comparison to students
not enrolled in the course?
CSEI - Academic Self-Efficacy
7.4
CSEI - Social Self-Efficacy
7.1
7
7.2
6.9
►Overview: Academic Self-Efficacy in College Students
• Students with academic concerns may greatly benefit from
referral to academic support services, particularly study skills
workshops or courses
• Study skills courses not only influence skill level, but increase
student levels of academic self-efficacy
• Students who believe they are capable of academic success are
more likely to persevere in the face of failure
6.8
7
6.7
6.8
6.6
6.5
6.6
6.4
6.3
6.4
For the CSEI Academic Self-Efficacy scale a significant interaction was
found (f = 20.42, p <.001, η2= .08) indicating that individuals enrolled in the study
skills course changed significantly more over time than comparison students not
enrolled in the course. On the Social Self-Efficacy scale the course by time
interaction was also significant (f = 8.645, p = .004, η2= .04), again with
academically underprepared students making greater gains over time than the
comparison students
On the MSLQ Self-Efficacy for Learning and Performance scale a significant
time by course interaction was found (f = 10.138, p = .002, η2= .04), with
academically underprepared students making greater gains than comparison
students. A significant time by course interaction was also found on the Control of
Learning Beliefs scale (f = 10.034, p = .002, η2= .04) with academically
underprepared students making greater gain than comparison students.
We can conclude from these findings that although academic selfefficacy improves somewhat over the course of the semester for all
students, courses designed to assist academically underprepared
students have a more significant influence on this construct than
typical college courses. Previous findings that academic self-efficacy
may be a weak but significant predictor of college GPA were not
supported. Although a modest relationship between academic selfefficacy and semester GPA was found for academically
underprepared students, it was not able to predict GPA or retention
among these students. However, there were strong correlations
between measures of academic self-efficacy and measures of study
skill level.
6.2
6.2
6.1
pre
post
1730
pre
1010
post
1730
MSLQ - Self Efficacy for
Learning & Performance
1010
MSLQ - Control of Learning Beliefs
6.3
6.4
6.25
6.3
6.2
6.2
6.1
6.15
6
►Recommendations for Clinicians
• College students who present with academic concerns may
benefit from both skills training and increasing self-efficacy
• Students should be given information about academic support
services that are available to them
• Clinicians may track academic self-efficacy in such clients using
measures such as the CSEI or MSLQ. Future research may
investigate the relationship between levels of academic selfefficacy and other clinical problems (ex. anxiety, depression).
6.1
5.9
6.05
5.8
5.7
6
5.6
5.95
5.5
5.9
5.4
pre
post
1730
1010
pre
post
1730
1010
Research Question 3:
Can the variables of academic self-efficacy and semester GPA accurately predict students’ retention into the following semester?
Eighty-eight percent of the total sample was retained into the following semester while only 28 of the original 237 participants were not (i.e., did not register for classes
for the upcoming term). The proportion of non-retained students was similar for both academically underprepared (96 retained, 15 not retained, 15.6%) and
comparison group students (113 retained, 13 not retained, 11.5%). The two measures of academic self-efficacy and semester GPA were entered into a logistic
regression. None of the variables significantly increased prediction of retention. This finding is not surprising due to the high rate of retention in the sample.
►Academic Support Services
• Tracking academic self-efficacy in addition to study skill levels
may provide increased information about program effectiveness.
• Because academic self-efficacy corresponded strongly with
study skill ability in this study, instructors of study skills courses
may integrate measures of academic self-efficacy to track
progress over time.
• Measures such as the CSEI and MSLQ are available free of
charge, whereas larger study skills assessment inventories have
a considerable expense. Replacing some measures of study
skill level with academic self-efficacy inventories may have
financial benefit.
Funding sources that helped support this study: Academic Resource Center,
Utah State University and Kranz research fund, Department of Psychology,
Utah State University
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