A trait-state model of strategic approach to studying in university students

Rogaten, Jekaterina; Moneta, Giovanni B and Spada, Marcantonio (2012). A trait-state model of strategic approach to studying in university students. In: European Conference of Positive Psychology, 26-29 Jun 2012, Moscow, Russia.

Abstract

Strategic approach to studying is characterised by students’ target-oriented attitudes towards comprehension of new information (Tait & Entwistle, 1996). It is an adaptive learning strategy that positively relates to academic performance (e.g., Cassidy & Eachus, 2000). This study proposes and tests a trait-state model of strategic approach to studying. It was hypothesised that the traits of adaptive metacognition, attentional control, and intrinsic motivation would be positively associated with strategic approach to studying, and the relationships would be mediated by the state variables of flow in studying, approach coping in studying, positive affect in studying and mastery and performance approach goals.

An opportunity sample of 419 undergraduate students from a London University completed a questionnaire pack consisting of a short inventory assessing students’ approaches to studying (ASSIST; Entwistle, 2008), Positive Metacognitions and Meta-Emotions Questionnaire (PMCEQ; Beer & Moneta, 2010) measuring adaptive metacognition, Attentional Control Scale (ACS; Derryberry & Reed, 2002), Work Preference Inventory (WPI; Amabile, Hill, Hennessey & Tighe, 1994) assessing trait intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, Dispositional Flow Scale-2 Short Scale (DFS-2 ; Jackson, Martin & Eklund, 2008), revised COPE (COPE-R; Zuckerman & Gagne, 2003) measuring coping strategies, Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) – Short Form (I-PANAS-SF; Thompson, 2007) measuring current affect in studying, and Achievement Goals Questionnaire (AGQ ; Elliot & McGregor, 2001) assessing goal orientations in studying.

A multiple-mediator model, using bootstrap estimation (Hayes & Preacher, 2011), explained 46.5% of the variance in strategic approach to studying. Approach coping (B=.32), flow in studying (B=.23), and mastery approach achievement goals (B=.05) had fostering effects on strategic approach to studying, whereas performance approach achievement goals had no effect. Adaptive metacognition had both direct and indirect effects on strategic approach to studying: Factor 2 (confidence in interpreting own emotions as cues, restraining from immediate reaction, and mind setting for problem solving) had a direct hindering effect (B=-.16 and an indirect fostering effect through flow (ab=.02), whereas Factor 3 (confidence in setting flexible and feasible hierarchies of goals) had a direct fostering effect (B=.12 and an indirect fostering effect through flow (ab =.03), positive affect (ab =.06) and approach coping (ab =.13). Attentional control had only direct fostering effects on strategic approach to studying (attentional focus B=.11 and attentional shift B=.15). The fostering effect of intrinsic motivation on strategic approach to studying was fully mediated by flow (ab =.09), positive affect (ab =.07), mastery approach goals (ab =.05) and approach coping (ab =.10).

The findings of this study substantially support the research hypotheses. Approach coping and flow in studying are the strongest predictors of strategic approach to studying and the strongest mediators of the effects of dispositional variables, and, together with positive affect and mastery approach goals, explain entirely the positive effect of trait intrinsic motivation on strategic approach to studying. Adaptive metacognitive traits and dispositional attentional control appear to exert positive effects on strategic approach to studying, and hence are also candidate targets for interventions aimed at enhancing students’ strategic approach to studying.

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