Class Participation & Outcomes for First-Year Students

For those who teach in a classroom, the positive benefits of class participation and engagement are quite apparent. However, is this importance echoed in national data on first-year college students? This note explores class participation in first-year college students using a national dataset of 147,121 first-year students from 128 colleges and universities in the United States. Specifically, this note explores differences between students based on their self-reported degree of class participation.

How Does Class Participation Relate to Academic Behaviors and Outcomes for First-Year College Students?

Key Questions:

  1. To what degree do first-year students report participate in class?
  2. What are the characteristics of students who report high levels of class participation compared to moderate or low levels of class participation?
  3. How is participating in class related to key outcomes?

Key Points:

  • Students who report higher levels of class participation are more likely to report high levels of self-discipline and stronger time management skills,
  • Students who report higher levels of class participation are more likely to engage in positive academic behaviors.
  • Students who report participating in class frequently are more likely to have higher term-GPAs and higher rates of retention.

The attached research note works to discuss how participating in class relates to academic behaviors and outcomes for first-year college students by taking a closer look reporting output related to: degree of class participation, academic skills, basic academic behaviors, advanced academic behaviors, self-discipline, time management, term GPA, and persistence and retention as they relate to class participation.

This chart shows the percentage of first-year students responding 6 or 7 (high) on questions related to their assessment of their academic skills by level of class participation.

About the data

The data used in this research note is from the 2014-2015 Mapworks Fall Transition Survey. The survey was jointly designed by the survey development team at Skyfactor and researchers at Ball

State University. The Transition Survey measures the behaviors and expectations of students entering a college or university. Data is typically collected beginning three to four weeks into the fall term via Skyfactor’s online survey system. The data in this note is from 147,121 first-year college students from 128 two and four-year institutions in the United States. The note also used student profile data uploaded by participating institutions during the 2014-2015 academic year, including but not limited to term GPA and retention.

To access all the data in this robust research note, just fill out the form to the right. Looking for more research on first-year students? Check out another Skyfactor Research Note, “The Impact of Roommates on First-Year Students” or visit our full library of resources.