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.



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.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions