For First-Year Students, How Does Class Participation Relate to Other Academic Behaviors and Outcomes?

This research note, which leverage data from the 2013 Mapworks Fall Transition Survey, explores differences between students who indicate their degree of class participation as low, moderate, or high.  Nearly 140,000 first-year students from over 130 institutions participated in the survey.  Responses from the survey item “To what degree are you the kind of person who participates in class?” were scored on a seven-point scale  (1-2 was coded as low, 3-5 as moderate, and 6-7 as high).

Approximately 57% of first-year respondents indicated they participated in class at a high level of frequency, 40% participating at a moderate level and 3% at the lowest level. Frequency of class participation is linked with higher self-assessment of academic behaviors. Students who indicated they participated in class with greater frequency are more likely to assess their academic abilities related to writing, reading, math and problem solving as very good or excellent compared to those who indicate participating in class with less frequency. Students who more frequently reported participating in class are also more likely to attend class, take good notes, study, and turn in homework nearly always than those who report participating with less frequency. Only 4% of those who indicated the lowest level of class participation reported communicating with their instructors nearly always compared to more than half of respondents with the highest levels of class participation. Higher frequency of participation is also linked with increased self-assessment of skills related to time management and self-discipline. Those who participate in class with the least frequency were more likely to cite spending less time studying for tests both in high school and college. Finally, those with lower levels of participation had lower high school and college GPAs.

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