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Do Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Homework and Studying Change Between High School and Engineering Classes

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

FPD 6: Transitions and Student Success, Part II

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.440.1 - 23.440.19



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Paper Authors


Nora Honken University of Louisville

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Nora Honken is a doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development at the University of Louisville. She has a B.S. in M.S. in Industrial Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and Arizona State University, respectively. She has extensive professional experience in engineering and management. Her research focuses around student performance and retention. Her teaching interest revolves around integrating opportunities to develop non-disciplinary workplace related skills into college classes.

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Patricia A Ralston University of Louisville

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Patricia A. S. Ralston is Professor and Chair of the Department of Engineering Fundamentals at the University of Louisville where she also received her B.S., MEng, and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering. Her educational research interests include the use of technology in engineering education, incorporation of critical thinking in engineering education, and ways to improve retention. Her other interests include process modeling, simulation, and process control.

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Running head: HIGH SCHOOL HOMEWORK ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS 1 Do Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Homework and Studying Change Between High School and Engineering Classes? Opinions on homework vary as to what type, how much, how frequently, at what age andfor what purpose homework should be assigned, as well as how much homework should counttowards students’ grades. The predominant opinion on homework has changed over time as thechallenges facing the country have changed (Copper, 2007). In an analysis of research on homework in the K-12 system, Cooper (1989) summarizedthe benefits and disadvantages of homework and concluded that homework makes the largestimpact on performance at the high school level. The relationship between homework andperformance has also been studied at the college level. According to Crede and Kuncel’s (2008)research, homework habits and attitudes are the strongest non-cognitive factors in predictingacademic performance in college. What is lacking in the research is how attitudes and behaviorsabout homework and studying formed in high school change and affect performance once astudent advances to college, particularly in engineering. Self-control is related to homework and studying. Research cited by Cooper (1989)showed greater self-discipline as a positive effect of homework. Research by Ducksworth andSeligman (2005) showed that people with greater self-control spent more time on homeworkthan students who scored lower on self-control scales. Faculty at XXX are carrying out an IRB approved study to understand the incomingfreshmen engineering students’ attitudes and behaviors towards homework and studying and todetermine how their attitudes and behaviors relate to their level of self-control. A survey wassent to the entire cohort (n = 431) of freshman engineering students at an ABET accreditedengineering college in a large, public, research institution in August of 2012. The first-time, full-HIGH SCHOOL HOMEWORK ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS 2time students were asked to voluntarily complete the survey during their Introduction toEngineering class, a two credit hour course all entering engineering students must take. Theresponse rate was approximately 90%. The survey asks the students to focus their answersspecifically on one math or science class they took their senior year in high school. Questions onhomework focused on the students’ perceived value of homework, the percent of time thestudents completed assigned homework and their motivation for completing homework orreasons for not completing it. The questions on studying focused on how many hours they spentstudying and whether they studied alone or with others. The Brief Self-Control Scale (Tangney,Baumeister & Boone, 2004) was used to measure self-control. Throughout the semester students are encouraged to attend free tutoring sessions, study ingroups and use other available resources such as the Khan Academy. The students will be givena similar survey at the end of the semester with questions about their attitudes and behaviorstowards homework and studying in college. The Brief Self-Control Scale will also beadministered at the end of the semester. The analysis will look at the relationship between attitudes and behaviors abouthomework and studying in high school and whether students change their attitudes and behaviorswhen in their first semester of engineering school. The study will also look at the relationshipbetween homework and self-control and if this changes throughout the first semester. The goal of the study is to provide faculty with an understanding of incoming students’homework and study behaviors and whether they change during their first semester in college.These results will lay the ground work for a larger study investigating the relationship betweenperformance in engineering school, self-control, and behaviors and attitudes towards homeworkand studying developed in high school, with the goal to inform high school students and teachersHIGH SCHOOL HOMEWORK ATTITUDES AND BEHAVIORS 3of these relationships. It is expected that this study could have implications for retention ofcollege students in STEM fields. ReferencesCooper, H. (1989). Synthesis on research on homework. Educational Leadership, 47 (3), 85-91.Cooper, H. (2007). The battle over homework: Common ground for administrators, teachers and parents. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.Crede, M. & Kuncel, N. R. (2008). Study habits, skills and attitudes: The third pillar supporting collegiate academic performance. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 3, 425-453.Duckworth, A. L., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2005). Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents. Psychological Science, 16 (12), 939-944. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2005.01641.xTangney, J. P., Baumeister , R. F. & Boone, A. L. (2004). High self-control predicts good adjustment, less pathology, better grades and interpersonal success. Journal of Personality, 72 (2), 271-322.

Honken, N., & Ralston, P. A. (2013, June), Do Attitudes and Behaviors Towards Homework and Studying Change Between High School and Engineering Classes Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19454

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