University student time management
This page contains notes about research on university students' time management skills and behaviours. It is related to the Survey Research and Design in Psychology Lab report exercise but may also be of interest or use to others.
A sociological perspective
The time management construct is of interest under the neo-liberal ideology (Adibi & Lawson, 2004). This ideology has led to competition policies (Orlikowsky & Yates, 2002) that include a greater focus on the performance of higher education (e.g,. Gillard, 2009).
Academic time management
One particular area of time management research interest is in the academic sphere, as various studies have recognized that ‘poor’ time management can contribute to academic underachievement (Balduf, 2009), and ‘good’ or effective time management can contribute to higher levels of college achievement (Britton & Tesser, 1991). Britton and Tesser found that 67% of undergraduate students identified time management as their most pressing problem.
Good practices of time management can be central to academic success (George, Dixon, Stansal, Gelb & Pheri, 2008), and strategies aimed at improving the effective use of time are often recommended as an aid to enhance the achievement of students (Misra & McKean, 2000). George, Dixon, Stansal, Gelb, and Pheri (2008) found that time management significantly predicted academic success.
Britton and Tesser (1991) found that self-reported time management predicted academic achievement and, in particular, it was short-term planning that predicted grade point average. Similarly, George et al. (2008) found time management to be the strongest sole predictor of cumulative GPA in their study of 231 university students and the factors related to academic and personal success. Misra and McKean (2000) found a negative correlation between time management behaviours and perceived academic stress.
Hess, Sherman, and Goodman, (2000) found that eveningness significantly predicted academic procrastination and that together with neuroticism, eveningness accounted for 28% of total variance in academic procrastination.
30%-60% of undergraduate university students were found to regularly post pone academic tasks (Rabin, Fogel, & Nutter-Upham, 2011). Cramming and “pulling all nighters” before an academic task is due are common occurrences amongst university students (Seo, 2012).
Time management factors
Macan, Shahani, Dipboye, and Phillips (1990) identified a four-factor model of time management among university students in the United States. The four factors were Setting Goals and Priorities, Planning and Scheduling, Perceived Control Over Time, and Preference for Disorganisation. Of the four factors, Perceived Control Over Time had the strongest contribution to students’ academic and emotional adjustment. Higher levels of perceived control over time were related to higher academic and emotional adjustment.
An Australian scale of time management contained six factors, these being Propensity to Plan, Coping with Temporal Flow, Sense of Purpose, Meeting Deadlines, Mechanics of Time Management and Effective Organisation (Covic, Adamson, Lincoln & Kench, 2003).
See also: Time management/Dimensionality
Effect of time management on academic performance
Some universities are implementing time management skills as generic skills that students learn during their course (Covic, Adamson, Lincoln, & Kench, 2003).
Grades in university often depend on the completion of a range of tasks, including those with various deadlines, lengths and priorities. These multiple tasks, and then grades are determined by the quality of effort put in. Thus, grade point average would be expected to be influenced by time management skills (Britton & Tesser). Therefore, as increasing demands are placed on students, students ability to manage time and stress becomes an essential component for academic success.
Both Britton and Tesser (1991) and Macan, Shahani, Dipboye, and Phillips (1990) report that students' ability to manage their time successfully and productively is explicitly related to academic performance – the better a student’s time management, the better their grades and the less stress they experience in regards to their academic life, generally. There has been somewhat of a dearth in information in regards to university students and time management (Britton & Tesser, 1991; Macan et al., 1990), the majority of research that has looked at time management has analysed it with other variables, such as self-judgement and self-monitoring, and not by itself (Britton & Tesser, 1991).
Britton and Tesser (1991) examined the effects of time management skills on the academic performance of university students and concluded that the skills accounted for 36% of the variance among grade point averages. Macan et al. (1990) reported that students in their study who perceived themselves to have control over their time reported more satisfaction with university than did those who did not perceive themselves as having control over their time.
Britton and Tesser (1991) concluded that 36% of the variance among grades were due to time management skills. Macan (1994) claims that by setting goals, organizing and scheduling, one can gain a sense of mastery over how we spend our time.
Time management and gender
Three studies which tested university students in time management have resulted in significantly different scores across genders. Findings by Misra and McKean (2000) indicated that females reported significantly higher results in all factors of time management behaviours (perceived better control of time, set and prioritised goals, planning and had an organised approach to tasks and workspace). Furthermore, results from Covic et al. (2003) showed females scored significantly higher only in one factor, this being the mechanics of time management, such as making lists and keeping a diary. Macan et al. (1990) also reported that women scored significantly higher in the factor called mechanics, which included planning and scheduling. As these studies indicate, women may practice the behaviour of time management more frequently than males, however the study by Misra and McKean reported that regardless of time management behaviour in women, this did not alter their academic stress.
Macan et al. (1990) found significant correlations between gender and time management, reporting that women engage in more mechanical time management behaviours than men, whereas men feel more in charge of their time management behaviours.
A study focused on students (Trueman & Hartley, 1996) revealed that female students in particular reported considerably greater time management skills than male students. In addition, the older mature-aged students (aged over 25 years) were found to report significantly better time-management skills than the younger students.
Effect of time management on other psycho-educational variables
Misra and McKean (2000) found that higher levels of perceived control over time were related to higher levels of coping among university students.
Relationship between time management and stress
An interesting finding of the Macan et al. (1990) study is that lower stress levels were most strongly correlated to the factor perceived control of time. This suggests that regardless if one undertakes time management activities and behaviours, such as writing lists and setting goals, if they do not perceive to be in control of their time or have a good attitude to time management they will still feel stressed. Nonis, Hudson, Logan and Ford (1998) investigated perceived control over time in university students, their results supported this notion with addition to perceived control correlating with problem solving abilities.
See also: Time management/References
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- Time management
- University student academic performance
- University student coping
- University student satisfaction
- University student stress