Explaining Academic Achievement Amongst Students in Higher Education: Learning Style, Academic Self-Efficacy, Academic Locus of Control, Computer Self-Efficacy and Perceived Proficiency as Determinants of Final Degree Classification.

Simon Cassidy  University of Salford, UK.

Psychological factors or individual differences have been the subject of much research in the field of education and learning (e.g. Cassidy & Eachus, 2000). The majority of these studies seek to establish the connection between cognitive style and beliefs about learning and actual achievement in a learning situation. The rationale for these studies centres around the belief that these individual differences are distinct from ability or intelligence, but may be of equal value in terms of task performance (Crozier, 1997). This paper reports a follow-up study which focuses on five psychological concepts; learning style, academic self-efficacy, academic locus of control, computer self-efficacy and perceived academic proficiency [student's judgement regarding their knowledge of and confidence within a particular academic field]. Each concept has been identified as an important factor related to learning in various settings. Here they will be examined within the domain of education,!
and specifically in relation to achievement of an undergraduate degree in a higher education setting. The current study investigates individual differences amongst learners in the context of the ultimate performance indicator in HE, that of final degree classification. In a longitudinal component of the study, time-dependent changes in cognitive style and beliefs about learning are also explored. It is suggested that by simultaneously examining these factors in a single cohort of students, it is possible to establish their relative contribution to academic performance in a meaningful study offering high internal validity. Thus overcoming problems of validity implicit when comparing studies that use varied methodologies and samples in an effort to establish a summative pattern of effect for these factors. The study is an attempt at providing a definitive assessment of individual differences amongst learners and the effect of   such differences on learning and performance in hig!
her education.

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