The Open UniversitySkip to content

How do students engage with computer-based assessments: impact of study breaks on intertemporal engagement and pass rates

Nguyen, Quan; Thorne, Sam and Rienties, Bart (2018). How do students engage with computer-based assessments: impact of study breaks on intertemporal engagement and pass rates. Behaviormetrika, 45(2) pp. 597–614.

Full text available as:
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (794kB) | Preview
DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


Study breaks and exam revision weeks are increasingly embedded in learning design under the assumption that students would make use of this time to catch up with their study or prepare for upcoming assessment tasks. However, there remains a paucity of empirical evidence to evaluate to what extent the implementation of study breaks, preparation and exam revision weeks impact students’ engagement and academic performance. By applying learning analytics in a Computer-Based Assessment (CBA) setting, this study investigates how study break weeks and assessment preparation weeks impacted the odds of passing a module using a mixed effect logistic regression on 123,916 undergraduate students in 205 modules over several semesters from 2015-2017 at the Open University. Furthermore, we investigated the intertemporal characteristics of student engagement during preparation weeks for a final assessment in an Introductory Business course over three semesters. A mixed-effect logistic regression was used to model behavioural engagement of 3,385 students on the VLE (i.e. click counts) over three semesters during the assessment preparation weeks. Our findings indicated a positive association between study breaks and the odds of passing a course, while there was no statistically significant effect in relation to the number of assessment preparation and revision weeks. Analysis of behavioural engagement on the VLE suggested that there was a higher proportion of passed students remained active during preparation and exam revision weeks compared to failed students. Compared to the pass group, the fail group also exhibited a stronger pattern of procrastination. This study offers new insights that could help institution management and course designer to evaluate the efficacy of using of study breaks and exam preparation weeks to improve student retention.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2018 The Authors
ISSN: 1349-6964
Keywords: Computer-Based Assessment; Engagement; Temporality; Learning Analytics; Academic performance
Academic Unit/School: Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
Other Departments > Strategy Office
Other Departments
Research Group: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 55977
Depositing User: Bart Rienties
Date Deposited: 01 Aug 2018 13:34
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2020 06:35
Share this page:


Altmetrics from Altmetric

Citations from Dimensions

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU