Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Predictors of Performance in Introductory Finance: Variables within and beyond the Student's Control

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Predictors of Performance in Introductory Finance: Variables within and beyond the Student's Control

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study examined variables that are within and beyond the control of students in explaining variations in performance in an introductory finance course. Regression models were utilized to consider whether the variables within the student's control have a greater impact on course performance relative to the variables beyond the student's control. Among the particular variables within the student's control were the student's inclination to procrastinate as evidenced by the relative delay the students exhibited in commencing online homework assignments. Also, separate measures were constructed to examine the effect of the accuracy of the homework submitted and the student's actual completion of those assignments. Class attendance was also considered. The variables largely beyond the control of the student examined in this study were a measure of how far along in the undergraduate program the student had progressed when he/she enrolled in the introductory finance course, a measure of the credit load of the student in the semester when the student took the course, the student's gender, the student's overall academic ability and the relative strength of the student in comprehending quantitative versus verbal concepts. For the three measures of student performance studied, average homework grade, the mid-term exam grade and the final exam grade, all of the relevant variables within the student's control demonstrated some impact on the various measures of performance. There was persuasive evidence that the variables within the student's control were more influential in explaining differences in student performance than the variables beyond the student's control.

Keywords: attendance, higher education, homework accuracy, homework completion, procrastination, student performance

1. Introduction

This paper considers the impact of variables within and beyond a student's control that influence the student's performance in an introductory college finance course. Several measures of student performance are analyzed-student grades on online homework assignments, the mid-term grade and the grade on a comprehensive final exam. Of course, it is also of interest to examine which of the variables within the control of the student appear to have a statistically significant impact on the various measures of performance. Such findings may guide the instructor in formulating his/her appeals to the students to modify their mix of course related activities (including the use of grade incentives to encourage more productive activities) in order to achieve a greater mastery of the course material.

Regression models are presented which explain student variations among the three measures of student performance. For the regression model explaining homework grades, the variables that are within the control of the student are (a) student attendance, (b) an observed (as distinct from a self-reported) measure of procrastination in the average time a student is delaying the initial accessing of the online homework assignments, and (c) the number of homework assignments completed. In the regression model explaining performance on the mid-term exam, the variables within the student's control are the same three considered in the model explaining homework performance plus a variable for average scores for the homework assignments. Of course, in the model explaining performance on the mid-term exam, all of the student behavior variables are measured only for that portion of the semester leading up to the mid-term. For the regression model explaining the final exam, the explanatory variables reflecting student behavior would be similar to the list of variables in the mid-term exam model, except the independent variables are measured over the entire course.

In all three models explaining student performance (for homework grades, the mid-term and the final exam), control variables are included which do not reflect student course behaviors: the number of credits completed at the outset of the semester to measure how far along a student is in his/her academic program, the number of academic credits that student is taking during the semester as a measure of the overall weight of the student's academic load, a binary variable measuring the student's gender, the student's sum of verbal and quantitative scores on the SAT exam as a measure of the student's overall ability, and the ratio of quantitative to verbal SAT scores as a measure of the extent to which a student's abilities are more skewed to quantitative or verbal tasks. …

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