An Investigation of the Effectiveness of Increasing Academic Learning Time for College Undergraduate Students' Achievement in Kuwait

Article excerpt

The study investigated the effectiveness of increasing ALT for college students' achievement in Kuwait. In Phase 1,37 students participated (22, experimental; 15, control); in Phase 2, 19 students participated (8, sub-experimental; 11, sub-control). Several experimental research methods used in conducting this study, including development of a designed class schedule; and several applications in the data collection process. Data analysis and results revealed a 100.54% change in Phase 1 experimental group, while indicating a positive weak correlation when ALT increased in the Phase 2 sub-experimental group. Finally, the conclusion and recommendations offer insights for administrators, instructors, and for future research.

Introduction

Academic learning time (ALT) plays a significant role in improving and enhancing the academic achievement of students regardless of their educational levels. Broadly, instructional time consists of other time factors. For example, a school/academic year is the total number of school days per year; allocated time is the total amount of time (days or hours) spent in attending a school or a class; and engage time is the total amount of time spent engaged in learning tasks and activities each class period. Of interest in this study is academic learning time (ALT), which is the total amount of time spent by students in individual work on actual tasks (Derri, Emmanouilidou, Vassiliadou, Kioumourtzoglou, & Olave, 2007; ERIC Digest, 2003, Aronson, Zimmerman, & Carlos, 1999).

ALT, as an instructional factor, has been shown to have a positive effect on student learning (Christman, Badgett, & Lucking, 1997). Donat (2006) indicated the importance of developing time management strategies that help teachers address students' academic achievement. Myers (1990) examined the effect of teacher management of instructional time in learning and indicated that teaching strategies served to transform instructional time. Adamson, Covic, and Lincoln (2004) noted that instructors should include in their plans ways to ensure that students benefit from time and organizational skills. Also, "the likelihood of student success is increased when the instructor provided some groupfocused academic feedback, planned explanation, and structuring/directing of the assignment" (ERIC Clearinghouse on Handicapped and Gifted Children, 1985, p. 2). The latter project led to a teacher's manual that contains four specific strategies for increasing academic learning and student achievement. These strategies are: (1) "spend more time on academic subjects", (2) "increase student attention to academic tasks", (3) "provide more direct academic instruction", and (4) "provide more academic activities in which students experience high task success" (p. 3). According to Ogonor and Nwadiani (2006), time spent on task affects the accomplishment of personal goals and organizational levels. Coats (2003) stated the importance of allocating sufficient time to work on tasks, and found that decisions regarding this allocation affected test scores.

Ironsmith and Epple (2007) found that students who received a personalized system of instructions (PSI) did much better than others in a normal lecture. Taylor (1999) explored the effects of computer-assisted learning and time spent on learning on student performance in mathematics, and indicated that more time spent on learning improved students' performance in this subject. He believed that providing enough on-task-time was imperative to successful teaching. Lee (2006) also explained that between- and within-task transitions can improve the efficient use of academic learning time. Practitioners should look at methods that have been proven to help students to learn and remain on-task longer. However, others (e.g., Nelson, 1990) have found, after reviewing the literature, that factors (e.g., increased allocation of time and length of instruction) may not sufficiently increase student achievement. …

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