Can they succeed? Exploring at-risk students' study habits in college general chemistry
A well-established literature base identifies a portion of students enrolled in post-secondary General Chemistry as at-risk of failing the course based on incoming metrics. Learning about the experiences and factors that lead to this higher failure rate is essential toward improving retention in this course. This study examines the relationship between study habits and academic performance for at-risk students in General Chemistry. Students who were in the bottom quartile of SAT math scores were identified as at-risk students. The study habits of General Chemistry students, both those identified as at-risk and those not identified were measured by text message inquiries. The text message asked ‘‘Have you studied for General Chemistry I in the past 48 hours? If so, how did you study?” twice a week throughout a semester. Student responses to the messages were used to calculate the frequency of studying throughout the term. The results from a multiple regression analysis showed that high frequency of studying could mitigate the difference between at-risk and non-at-risk students on final exam scores. Additionally, the quality of studying for six at-risk students was analyzed by student interviews in concert with their text message responses. The results indicated that the quality of studying is not necessarily linked to frequency of studying and both quality and frequency can play a role in at-risk students' academic performance. The results presented offer a path for at-risk students to succeed in General Chemistry and the methodology presented offers a potential avenue for evaluating future efforts to improve student success.