What are the characteristics of a successful student? While the definition of “successful student” is changing over the year, youth knowledge nowadays must be broaden much more than just reading, writing, and arithmetic in order to succeed( Michael S. Brockman, M.A., P.P.S.C., Hiram Johnson High School). That leads to the fact that the concepts of academic success are varies from researcher to researcher. Ellis & Worthington (1994) and Scheuerman (2000) explained academic success as the term that refers to those successful students who have ability and endeavor to manage the demand of university effectively both in society and academic, to have a desire to be successful and to be considered as socially proficient, intrinsically motivated and goal oriented. According to Strydom, University of the Witwatersrand Institutional Repository 1996, by continuous improvement of learning, learners develop and get used to a specific circumstances adequately basing on their specific demands as well as faculties existing in the circumstances which is described as academic success. Generally, academic success can be simply defined as student self-motivation, self-efficiency and his power to cope with the study environment, with the only goal is to achieve excellent academic performance at university and college as well.
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Why is academic success important?
Academic success is important because it directly decides the positive outcomes of the students after graduating. There is nothing out of the blue, a research shows that the students with good degrees or high levels of education are more probably to be employed and paid a higher salary grade than the others with no academic success (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001; U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1999). Academic success is important because not only the good jobs with the satisfactory wages the students would have, but also the higher levels of education to tackle the technologically demanding occupations the working students would need in the future (Brown, 1999; National Alliance of Business, Inc., 1998). Moreover, the quantity of jobs demanding a university education is predicted to increase more than twice as fast as those not demanding a university education by the next ten to twenty years (Fleetwood & Shelley, 2000; Rentner & Kober, 2001). The students with academic success would have more opportunities to choose their future jobs than those with less education.
Additionally, academic success might represent the gap between doing the job for earning money and enjoying the job (Rentner & Kober, 2001, p. 15). Furthermore, the students who succeed in study seem to become:
- more sustainable in their jobs;
- more expected to have health insurance;
- more confident about their income;
- more active, helpful and healthy;
- safer from the illegal activities
(National Alliance of Business, Inc., 1998)
Finally, academic success helps students keep off participationon in sexual activities (Schvaneveldt, Miller, & Berry, 2001), have higher self-regard (Filozof, Albertin, & Jones, 1998), have lower levels of hopelessness and worry (Cicchetti & Toth, 1998; Liem, Dillon, & Gore, 2001), get away from the misuse of alcohol and social unexpected performance (Kasen, Cohen, & Brook, 1998), and prevent themselves from engaging in chemical abuse (Hallfors et al., 2002; Schulenberg et al., 1994).
What are determinants of academic success?
Cliff (2003) figures out that a lot of careful researches have attempted to find out the factors that predict the academic success of student, especially the undergraduate student, and the way these factors are diversified due to the fact that students’ populations, academic and other needs are differentiating. Specifically, numerous of research studies focus on measuring the student intellectual and non-intellectual factors that can be considered as useful predictors of student academic success in general.
Many scholars from a lot of universities have tried as much as possible to classify the determinants of academic success for years. Kuh and his assistants, for example, did the same thing when they pointed out that there should be five factors that influence the academic success of the students (Kuh et al., 2007). The first factor is the background characteristics of students, such as his or her demographic and other pre-college experiences. The second factor is the structural features of the institution, such as its dimensions, missions and admission standard. The third factor relates to the interactions between student and faculty, student and university staff, and student and peers. The fourth factor is the student’s awareness of learning environment. Last but not least, the achievement behaviors of students during their study period at college are one of the most important factors which put a big effect on academic success. The five determinants of academic success which Kuh et al. suggests are very similar to the factors are discussed in the model of activity behavior of Eccles (Eccles & Harold, 1991). Kuh and his assistants classified socializers, pre-college experiences, background characteristics and awareness as important factors of academic success. In that case, the model of Eccles is similar because it identified the same determinants of achievement context choices. Cotton and Wilson (2006) had the same idea with Kuh et al. because they also figured out that the efforts which the student put on themselves in the academically educational situations have a certain association with student success. Researchers have also discovered that the self-efficacy and the substantial quality of teaching – learning system in higher education are absolutely linked to academic achievement (Pintrich & De Groot, 1990). Moreover, scholar also noticed that there are still many other factors influencing the success and diligence of students during their college years.
For undergraduate students in general, intellectual variables which include students’ attitude towards their study, method of learning, study outcomes and different aspects of study skills such as: writing, reading, learning…(Willingham, 1985; Young and Barrett, 1992; Eimers and Pike, 1997).
Methods of learning
Method of learning is the way students control their study logically, acquire knowledge from the lessons effectively, and learn successfully. (Block Preparation Team, 2008).
According to Hidden secrets of academic success ( Noah Mazereeuw 2010), two of a lot of factors which affect academic success of students during studying periods are the influence from roommates and the encoding specificity. The first factor is a fact about students’ realizations which are mostly affected significantly by their roommates. As a result of that, it is not a surprise that students tend to choose excellent people to live with whenever they have chances to pick roommates. The second factor is the encoding specificity which is considered as an important mental and phenomenon state. This is about the ways for students to learn information or to study something. Specifically, it is the most effective when students recall the context in which they had learned information or studied previously. So that the imagination of the context of receiving lesson is one of the good ways for students remember things they had learnt.
Motivation is believed that it is also affected on progress of students (Helme & Clarke, 2001; Jenkins, 2001). There are a lot of researchers studying about the effect of motivation on academic success so a great deal of theories about this concept have been defined. According to Maslow (1962), motivation means that the needs of human beings encouraged them to progress and attain the success. Besides, Kassin (2003) thinks that motivation is a personality characteristic of individual. Motivation is divided into three types: internal, external and achieving motivation (Entwistle, 1998). Whereas Entwistle (1998) thinks that internal motivation is a expression of personal interest, Deci (1975) finds that internal motivation is an action which is carried out for its own duty, not for interest. External motivation is the aspiration of accomplishing the course and achieving success. Achieving motivation is thought to do something well and maybe do better than peers (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
Moreover, a lot researchers also find that motivation is very important for the perseverance of students who wish to fulfill courses of study (Burgum, Martins, & Northey, 1993; McInnis, James, Evans, Peel, & Dobson, 1999). A study performed by Sharma and Burgess (1994) showed that over half of students decide to withdraw from universities because they did not have motivation. Furthermore, students classify self-motivation in the second rank and lecturers classify it in the first rank (the University of Newcastle, Killen, 1994).
It is proved that students process what they are taught in either “surface” or the “deep” ways (Marton & Saljo, 1976a & b; 1984). This makes a rough draft of the ways we process information, thus, tapping into different cognitive skills used. According to Cliff (2003a), the “surface” methods are described by learners paying their attentions to the details of the texts without the essential attentions to the underlying contentions and the ways of making sense in that texts; and trying to find a way to replicate the content of text in a unthinking sense to accomplish the requirements of their assessment without changing the content of text to make it sense for themselves. Meanwhile, the “deep” methods are the description of learners who enthusiastically look for the deep understanding of the meaning and the structure of the contention in what they are processing; and use their general knowledge and writing style to convert what they have processed or they try to find out the way of making sense by themselves. It would point out that the students who apply the “deep” methods are more likely to be success in higher education. According to Marton & Saljo (1976a & b; 1984), at least to some extent could the way students processed text be formed through some kinds of questions they were asked about the certain text.
Successes and failures in academic achievement do not depend on only the differences in capabilities but that factors like thinking styles also have an important effect on academic outcomes (Zhang, 2001). Basing on the results of a research carried out by Zhang (2001) of 424 juniors from Hong Kong and China, there is a proof to demonstrate the positive contribution to academic success of the certain thinking styles. In another study by Cano-Garcia & Hewitt Hughes (2000), they discovered that the interrelation and the impact of learning and thinking styles on academic success also supply evidence of a certain connection between thinking styles and academic achievement. These two studies also point out that the intellectual development may play an important role in academic literacy and academic success.
There is an affirmation by a lot of researchers that non-intellectual factors such as self-concept, educational and cultural background, support and financial permanence of family and peer are involved with academic success (Astin, 1976; Sedlacek & Brookes,1976) Non-intellectual consist of motivational and personality factors, biographic factors such as age, gender, health and marital status; socioeconomic factors, academic factors such as habits and methods of study, as well as personal characteristics such as values, emotional intelligence, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and so on. Study has pointed out that the above factors are very important in calculating the academic success rate of students just like intellectual factors (Astin, 1976; Biggs, 1985; Monk,1998).
According to Vermunt and Verloop (1999), students’ diligence is associated with the range they could alter their study process to meet the qualitatively high-level requirements which are placed on them in a background of higher education study. Consequently, the theory of constructive conflicts links to the capability of students to become aware of the high-level demands being placed on them, to perceive the gap between these demands and their own study process. Tinto’s model (Ashar & Skenes, 1993; Tinto, 1997; Tucker, 1999), in contrast, concentrates more on the pratical environment of higher education that could be said to be related to the students’ diligence. As suggested above, these might contain factors such as practical support for student’s studying and personal improvement, and combination of student into an collegiate and academic community.
Peers and Parents Interaction
According to Willeto,1999 academic accomplishment depends heavily on their parents’ expectation. Parents’ socio-economic and educational status not only play an important role in their children’s future academic success but also take essential part of their children’s career. Students who achieve better school grades as well as high test scores and stay longer in school more frequently come from high social capital families (e.g., McNeal, 1999; Teachman, Paasch & Carver, 1996). According to Coleman (1988,1990) close social relation helps develop information exchange and support in school-related tasks like assisting children’s home work becomes easier. In addition, the formation of personal standards like parental educational expectations have greatly affected academic success. Favorable relations between parents, students and teachers build up a climate of discipline and trust, which is crucial for students’ academic progress. Another good effect of these relations is that it provides strong support in school related matter and promote exchange of information related to academic success. Furthermore, an environment of good contact and close relationship with others create common standard that is easily accepted by most people. According to Israel, Beaulieu and Hartless (2001), parents who have children achieving higher test score, better grades and stay longer in school education know their child’s best friend’s parents well. Muller (1993) confirmed these findings with regard to test scores and grades. Regarding good result in mathematic research by Holfman, Guldemond, and Dijkstra (1996) proves good effect for forming a relation between parents of children at the same school. This contradicts the above mentioned findings by Morgan and Sorensen (1999) that showed a negative effect for closure among parents on gains in mathematic competencies. According to East, Lemer, Lemer, Soni, & Jacobson, 1992, friends help create an important surrounding and take a great part in shaping our personality. Students with difficulty getting along in group may result in low academic performance (Wentzel, 1991). Research shows that being socially received by their peers as a friendly member of a group, students are more likely to adjust themselves into academic difficulties (Wentzel & Asher,1995). In contrast, if the students are not accepted or experience coldness by peers, they will lose their self-confidence which may lead to naughty behaviors and low academic performance at college (Hepler,1994; Wentzel & Asher, 1995). The school influnce is introduced by Bandura through the concept of self-efficacy (1986). This concept is based on the belief that peer’s recognition (that means their ideas are listened to in class) and the ability to have an impact on school environment help them to achieve their desired outcomes (Hepler, 1994; Keefe & Bemdt, 1996; Kemple, 1991; Wentzel, 1991).
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Student – University Interaction
Reason et al. ‘s (2006) studies found that what can be known as student academic performance predictors were the encouragement of students’ academic commitment and the measurement of challenges of their coursework at university. The studies showed that students who receive full supports from university have a growth in academic ability. It is good that universities could build a study environment in which students can improve their relationships and interact with people who share different ideas, thoughts and values. Studies of Reason et al. suggested that in-class commitment should be the combination of varieties of writing assignments, group projects, active participation that put students come from difference backgrounds and cultures into the same place. The importance of classroom commitment is that it enhances the student academic ability.
Researches of Zeitlin-Ophir, Melitz, Miller, Podoshin and Mesh (2004) indicate the importance of how student can adjust and get in well with the university environment. With regards to academic success, students must socialize with the university life as well as the study programs, but the research showed that students face with some challenges of integrating into a wholly new sociocultural environment. The research also showed the importance of how student satisfy with the facilities, services, student-faculty-teacher relationships provided by the university. All of these affect positively the student academic integration which leads to the success of student at school. As Esceles, 1991 shows in her research, the fulfillment of feelings and relationships is what students gain by joining university activities. And by encouraging it, university could set up an social surroundings where students put more effort on their academics, then the focus on improving that fulfillment would help students succeed throughout their studying.
According to some studies, the student-faculty interactions is essential factor that leads to the improvement, academic success, satisfaction of student in a university environment (Ulla and Wilson, 2007; Umbach and Wawrzynski, 2005; Cotten and Wilson, 2006; Halawah, 2006).
The result of the findings of Ulla and Wilson’s (2007) study showed the strong relation between student-faculty relationships and academic achievement. Ullah and Wilson propose that faculty has better actively interact with student and bring them more chances to learn effectively by new approach of learning, increased school activities participation, and by service projects. The findings stated the profound effect that faculty could have on students’ academic success. Umbach and Wawrzynski (2005) also found the measurable impact of the way the faculty work with the students to their study engagement and academic achievement. The aim of their study was to clarify that student-faculty interaction concerned with positive study outcomes. Students receive good support from the faculty which includes interpersonal support and learning support. What the faculty should do is to challenge the students in the way that students can get high commitment to their study performance. The study points out that when university’ faculty members spend time encouraging and working with the student through interacting with them in the classroom or giving them advice of active and collaborative learning, that positively affect student’ academic success.
Cotten and Wilson (2006) study indicated the link between student-faculty relationships and student effort towards academic performance. The study showed that the faculty members have a deeply competence in impacting the student study effort and performance. Cotten and Wilson also figured out that student maybe infrequently interact with the faculty, and that is why university’s faculty should try to show the students the necessary and benefit of getting good relationship with them. In Halawah’s (2006) study of student-faculty about how can faculty-student informal interpersonal relationships affect student, he concluded that the close personal relationship between staff and students play an important role in encouraging the student knowledge improvement and make students find academics’ teaching activities satisfactorily and rewardingly. Thus, the study gave evidence about the fact that professors influence students’ awareness and understanding of their academic performance, then influencing their desire to achieve academic success.
According to a lot of researchers, teaching quality is one of the most important factors that influence academic success. Although there is little evidence proving that qualification of teachers can influence achievement of students, teaching quality is widely considered to be crucial for education (Jonah E.Rockoff March, 2003). In addition, teaching experience effects positively and remarkably on scores of reading tests and the control of fixed teacher quality (Jonah E. Rockoff March, 2003). Most universities think that their teaching quality will be improved much when they pay more for teacher who has higher diplomas and more experience (Jonah E. Rockoff March 2003).
For students, the teaching quality is the main reason of withdrawing from some courses (Yorke, 1999). There are a lot of issues relating teaching that may influence learning of students such as whether teachers teach students conscientiously, whether they are well-planned for lessons, and whether they comment assignment of students carefully (Martinez and Munday, 1998). Not only did Martinez and Munday say that, but also other researchers like Brougham (1978), Mill (1991), Parkinson, Hayton and Strachan (1987), Johnson (1994) and Yorke (1999) found that these factors were determined to the progress of students.
Moreover, the instruction method of teaching is one of the effects to students learning. Hits and Scanlon (2001) express that students attending traditional teacher-centered class have better advance after the class. However, for project-based methods, students can understand and remember lessons more easily, and knowledge and skills that they have just learnt can be used over time. Having the same ideas with Hits and Scanlon, Lord (1999) and Klein and Merritt (1994) believe that constructivist teachers can help students have critical thinking, interpretation and analytical skills.
Environmental is considered as the social circumstance around the student such as conditions of living, relationships among friends, family, peers… (Block Preparation Team, 2008). Besides factors come from inside university, there are a lot of factors affect students. Some of them are background of students, influence of parent, family financial status, the impact of the violence, and Physical and mental health of students (E. KOPPICH n.d). For the first factor, it confirms that the environment of growing process of a student roles an important condition for his or her academic achievement. In Equality of Educational Opportunity (1966), it was found that the level of education of parents were the strongest momentum for their children. In another word, parents are really a good mirror for their children to follow especially in studying. As a result of this, author also showed that it is will be given more chances of achieving academic success for students come from family which provide supervision, support as well as aspiration of studying for them. It is obviously that parental influence is quite a affected factor for student to achieve their success. As being said about family and its issues, there is a impact of family also affect students is the economic or financial status of their family. Specifically, it is shown that a student has a good performance at university mostly come from a secured family financial status which can pull students from dropping out university, being confident to gather more knowledge and feeling comfortable in order to focus on achieve their academic success. The result of this is people must consecrate that poverty will take a weak aspect for students’ studying life. Besides that, health conditions such as physical health and mental health are important for students too. A rich, strong of physical and mental health are the compulsory importance which affect strongly to prospects of academic success of students which is shown clearly at university attendance and inattention in studying of students. The last factor is about the influence of violence impact in study life. Those impacts can come from a lot of situations and forms such as violence between parents, or the one comes from the environmental of living or even students could be victims of this negative issue. Wherever it comes from and whatever it is shown in any forms, impact of violence has a great bad influence in having expectations about life of students concluding their studies life.
House (2002) had a piece of research about the effects of student personality and the instructional activities on academic achievement, and his work suggested that there are a lot of supporting factors to academic achievement. He indicates that because research has confirmed that both student personality and the instructional activities influence the learning outcomes, a lot of institutions have tried their best to build up instructional design models which connect closely to the student personality when developing programmes. In his investigation, House used the Input Environmental Outcome (IEO) model which was improved by Astin (1995). In this model, the inputs are student personalities such as self-concept, self-efficacy, self-set goals, pre-college experiences and so on. These inputs and the factors of Eccles expectancy-value model are just the same. House also makes allusion to that model of Eccles when he shows that the environmental factors which have an impact on student achievement at university correspond to the experiences that occur during their study period. Environmental factors could affect a student achievement expectations and task value in many ways (Eccles & Harold, 1991). Ultimately, the learning outcome would decide either the student is successful or not. The purpose of House when he applied the IEO model in his study is to test the weighted “contributions of student characteristics and specific instructional experiences” (p.228)
According to the results of House’s research, he pointed out that both student personalities and instructional experiences had an influence on the marking scheme of students (2002). For example, the students who have higher self-assessments than their peers was likely to have higher scores than their peers of their generally academic capability, as well as their driving force to achieve it. Furthermore, the students who have higher scores are probably to spend more time on studying inside as well as outside the university; that would direct them to the higher expectations of obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Studies recently about academic performance have determined that a healthy life styles influence student success at university. According to what Rebecca Moris, 2009 did in her research, a good nutritional regimen helps student perform better at university. Rebecca points out that nutrious meal including fruits, vegetables and food with low calorines during a day increase a student overal health and decrease the rate of illness. Veugerlers, 2008 agrees with Rebecca when he notes in his study the importance of a nuttrion breakfast and throughout the day that extends student ability to gain knowledge in class. In her study, Rebecca also figures out that if student lack of regular exercise, he or she will get lower academic performance. Student who exercises everyday is likely to outperform his classmate in studying. A research did by Dr.Charles Hillman in the March 2009 discovered that regular exercise can improve student academic achievement and his concerntration towards lectures at university. With relevant to exercise, getting enough sleep surely assists student achieving higher acadmic performance. Students who have a good night sleeping perform better than those who do not (Rebecca, 2009). Dr. Michael Breus’ research, 2003 found out the importance of getting enough sleep, he asserts that students who lack of sleep behave badly and communicate poorly, which reduce student academic success.
It seems that there are a lot of factors that affect the undergraduate student academic success, and some of them are more important determinants. Researchers have shown that non-intellectual and intellectual factors have the profound impact on student desire to be success, student goals, lastly, the academic success of students. Knowing all of these factors may help students achieve satisfactory results during university’ life and may be the future career after graduating.
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