Higher Levels of Academic Interest and Study Methods Increase Student Success

Researchers in two studies used the Study Attitudes and Methods Survey (SAMS) to examine the effects of non-traditional schedules on academic achievement and motivation. In the first study, students in a multi-year schedule were contrasted with students in a traditional schedule (Snyder, 1999). A multi-year schedule was defined as a schedule that required students to remain with the same set of teachers for one academic year. In the second study, the SAMS was administered to students in a summer school “Step-Up” Program designed to increase self-esteem and result in improved study attitudes and therefore greater academic success (Shelton, 1998).

The goal of both studies was to analyze ways that schools could improve students’ academic success. Participants for the first study were randomly selected from a population of 772 students consisting of sixth graders from two middle schools in a southeast Texas school district. The study examined the effects of the multi-year or traditional schedule on both academic achievement as well as motivation.

Motivation was assessed using the SAMS and was thought to be the catalyst for high academic achievement. According to the findings in the first study, there were no significant differences in student academic achievement and motivation. However, further analyses revealed that there was a difference on the Alienation Toward Authority scale of the SAMS. The researchers suggested that this indicated that “the multi-year students exhibited a more positive perception of their learning environment and their relationship with authority figures than did the traditional students.”

The purpose of the second study was to find out if enrollment in a special summer school program could successfully increase self-esteem and hence, academic success. The study’s participants were 80 students from two schools. The 40 students who chose to attend the summer school program were in the experimental group and the 40 students who chose not to participate were in the control group. All 80 students were given a self-esteem inventory and the SAMS at the end of their eighth grade year. Baseline data for grade point averages, attendance and behavior incidents were collected.

The SAMS and the self-esteem inventory were given again to both groups at the end of the summer program as a posttest. As a follow-up, during the first quarter of the students’ ninth grade year, the two assessments were administered a third time. Data again were collected for attendance, grade point average, and behavior incidents at the end of the first quarter of the students’ ninth grade year.

The experimental group had significantly higher scores on the Academic Interest and Study Methods scales of the SAMS. There was also some improvement in grade point averages for the experimental group as compared to the control group. There were not any significant differences in self-esteem, attendance, or behavior referrals.

References

Shelton, M. C. (1998). An analysis of the impact of an at-risk treatment program on self-esteem and its effects on attitudes toward study skills, attendance, academic achievement and behavior of entering ninth grade students. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanity and Social Sciences, 58 (7-A), pp. 2551.

Snyder, A. K. (1999). Analysis of multi-year and traditional schedules’ effects on middle school students academic achievement and motivation. Dissertation Abstracts International Section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 59 (11-A), May 1999, pp. 4047.