Academic boredom, approaches to learning and the final year degree outcomes of undergraduate students

Sharp, J., Hemmings, B., Kay, R. and Atkin, C. (2017) Academic boredom, approaches to learning and the final year degree outcomes of undergraduate students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42 (8). pp. 1055-1077. ISSN 0309-877X

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Academic boredom, the boredom experienced by undergraduates at university or college, is a complex but largely negative and disabling achievement-related emotion. In this mixed-methods study of 224 students attending a single institution in England, academic boredom was found to arise at the point of course delivery itself, while studying at other times, and during the completion of assignments for the purposes of assessment. Quantitative data from the BPS-UKHE and ASSIST questionnaires, meaningfully enriched with qualitative data from ten semi-structured research interviews, indicate that those with a measurably higher propensity or habitual disposition towards academic boredom than others were among the most adversely affected, displaying the deep, strategic and surface approaches and profiles of ‘less effective learners’. This was reflected in, for example, their interest in ideas, their ability to organise resources and manage time, and what they had to memorise or do to ‘get by’ and pass, as well as their achievement motivation and sense of purpose. As an integral part of a greater emotional dynamic and evolving causal network, this translated into a corresponding reduction in average final degree mark and fewer ‘good’ degree awards. Recommendations surrounding the notion of boredom mitigation are presented which warrant serious consideration. With recent and growing levels of attention internationally, the work presented here makes an important contribution to a surprisingly neglected and underdeveloped field of UK higher education research and the student engagement agenda.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: School of Teacher Development
Depositing User: Professor Chris Atkin
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2017 10:38
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2019 15:52

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