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Differences in secondary and tertiary students’ academic behaviours and beliefs. A cross-sectional multivariate analysis

Jellicoe, Mark (2015) Differences in secondary and tertiary students’ academic behaviours and beliefs. A cross-sectional multivariate analysis. Liverpool John Moores University. (Unpublished)


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Background: Achievement stakes in education have rarely been higher. Personality traits and students’ beliefs drive academic behaviours salient to academic performance (AP). Research suggests that these remain malleable during late adolescence and early adulthood. Greater understanding of the relative importance of non-intellective factors, at different educational stages and during transition is required. Aims: Between group differences in, and relative importance of, factors that inform academic study strategies employed by university (US) and school (SS) students are examined. These are captured by academic self-efficacy (ASE) and test anxiety (TA). Sample: N=100 SS (98% females; 2% male) and N=100 US (81% female; 19% male) were recruited by convenience sampling during prearranged data collection sessions. Ethical approval was sought and granted. Method: Five validated self-report measures were used to test the five factor model of personality, ASE, academic conscientiousness, implicit theories of intelligence (ITI) and TA. Data were analysed to understand relationships and differences. Results: This study highlights constructs that tentatively facilitate an adaptive transition between secondary and tertiary education. Both groups endorse adaptive proximal behaviours and beliefs to AP. Greater support for adaptive factors such as ASE is reported in undergraduates. Conversely, secondary students endorse less adaptive approaches including TA and neuroticism. Path analysis shows that ASE fully mediates adaptive, distal personality factors such as conscientiousness and openness and partially mediates neuroticism, in its relationship with TA. Conclusion: Key non-intellective academic behaviours and beliefs, that appear to be important in stepping up to tertiary education, and are known to support AP, are endorsed. Limitations and future research directions are discussed.

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