The college learning environment is very dynamic and often accompanied by discoveries for students. As a result, students have developed a series of schoolwork habits in the process of learning such as reliance on media support programs, use of mobile phones, and other social interaction. These habits have direct or indirect impacts on the outcome of the learning process among college students.
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For instance, it would be prudent to review the effects of different schoolwork habits on academic performance and general productivity in the competitive college learning environment. Several scholars and researchers have successfully associated different schoolwork habits with academic performance, level of discipline, and general productivity of students. According to Lepp, Barkley, and Karpinski (2015), overindulgence in the mobile phone culture harms college performance since it acts as a distractor. Moreover, the mobile phone culture consumes a lot of learning time as users are often engrossed in playing games, texting, chatting, and making long phone calls. Moreover, Mokhtari, Delello, and Reichard (2015) note that overreliance on different media resources is a distraction in the college learning environment since it promotes the culture of laziness.
This means that schoolwork habits associated with the use of media resources may result in negative performance, especially when a college student makes it part of the studying process. However, according to Petty (2014), some schoolwork habits positively influence performance, especially when integrated with the curriculum. For instance, digital learning and online research are instrumental promoters of active and effective performance. Therefore, it is important to focus on one schoolwork habit and its impact on the learning process to establish the existing correlation. This study aims at examining the relationship between college students’ work habits while in the library and how they affect the perception of class performance.
The proposed study is focused on the library learning environment since it is an instrumental determinant of academic performance. Most of all schoolwork activities are associated with library research. Therefore, the study will be able to establish the positive or negative impacts of different schoolwork habits in the library environment in terms of perception on class performance.
Students’ academic habits in college are formed due to various factors that should be taken into account when analyzing academic performance, productivity, and other criteria. To assess the conditions influencing the effectiveness of students’ work, it is possible to consider several scientific peer-reviewed articles that provide research on learners’ educational opportunities. Supposedly, these empirical studies suggest the external factors that play a key role in the formation of students’ habits and their academic performance.
For instance, in a study carried out by Lepp, Barkley, and Karpinski (2015) to establish the correlation between academic performance and cell phone usage among college students in the US, the findings indicated a negative relationship. The main focus of the study was made on the influence of cell phones on the level of American students’ academic performance. The authors claimed that these devices “are an integral part of college life and culture” (Lepp, Barkley, & Karpinski, 2015, p. 1).
Nevertheless, as a hypothesis, the findings suggested that too often use these gadgets carries a certain risk for the productivity of students and negatively affects their attention. The authors conducted the study based on a mixed-method, using participant interviews and analyzing the obtained data in statistical terms. In total, 536 students took part in the study, which gives room for sufficient reliability of the obtained data (Lepp, Barkley, & Karpinski, 2015). The authors concluded that the use of cell phones should be reduced since the existing indicators prove the assumption of the negative impact of devices on academic performance.
Another study carried out by Mokhtari, Delello, and Reichard (2015) to observe the students’ ability to perform different tasks suggested that use of different media resources against many tasks is a distraction to a college student. The study devoted to students’ multitasking and their ability to simultaneously perform several objectives. As participants, 935 undergraduate college students were involved, which was an efficient sample space for a comprehensive analysis (Mokhtari, Delello, & Reichard 2015).
The authors supposed that their mixed analysis method based on interviewing target group members and compiling statistical reports could be useful in identifying the problem of the impact of third-party resources on educational performance (Mokhtari, Delello, & Reichard 2015). The authors concluded that the use of various media resources in parallel with a study load significantly distracts young people and can create problems during the learning process.
To further understand how to improve the performance of students, the researcher considered another article recommending improvement in the educational motivation strategies. The study carried out by Petty (2014) on ways of motivating students to college completion and academic success indicated that integration of collaboration and curriculum activities would catalyze performance.
Through a comparative literature review of different authors to find objective factors that can enhance the educational motivation of first-generation students, Petty (2014) merely summarized existing knowledge on the topic. The opinions of various respected scholars were used by the author as a basis for the need to find relevant and useful ways to increase students’ interest in the learning process and make life in the college more intense.
As possible ways, Petty (2014) suggested using extra-curricular activities, regularly incorporating various visual education tools into the curriculum, and also organizing learners’ collaboration to strengthen teamwork. Although the study was not aimed at a specific intervention, its practical significance in terms of recommendations is applicable in a typical college education environment. Petty (2014) noted that “motivation is complicated, especially when dealing with students that face many challenges” (p. 258). Therefore, the author concluded that a search for appropriate approaches to the organization of the curriculum is an effective instrument for promoting the performance of students.
As established in the literature review, it is apparent that different external factors play a key role in the formation of students’ habits and their academic performance. The articles have presented useful theoretical insights and the basis for conducting a separate study on the working habits of college learners. Some ideas from the empirical literature can be borrowed, for example, findings regarding the use of cell phones. Also, new topics may be generated to expand the scope of the theme for the proposed study. For instance, the premise of the extra-curricular work of students and its impact on academic achievement in the learning process was derived from the literature review. Since the proposed study is focused, the following research question was generated to examine the primary study theme.
- How do college students’ work habits while in the library affect how well they think they are doing in their classes?
To answer the above question, the researcher created the following research objectives.
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- To establish the level of internet dependence for different work habits in the library.
- To establish the similarity or differences in the level of impacts of these habits on class activities
- To establish how the schoolwork habits help students to save time and find relevant resources in the library
Since the proposed study was based on observation and direct interviews, the researcher opted for a qualitative research design to capture the personal insights of the respondents for each response. The rationale for selecting qualitative design was informed by its ability to support impetus and comparative analysis from personal insights to establish an existing trend (Mason, 2018). The dependent variable for the study is schoolwork habits in the library while the dependent variable is the perception of their impacts on class activities. The researcher selected a deductive approach to establish the relationship between the dependent and independent variables.
The research was performed using the open-ended question format to carry out a systematic interview and observations focused on a sample space of five respondents. Data collection for the study was carried out through one-on-one interviews with the respondents and ethnography (direct observation) (see appendix 2). The choice for open-ended questions was informed by the desire to capture personal experiences with the research theme (see appendix 1). The respondents were selected through a random sampling approach.
Research Ethics and Reducing Biases
To reduce potential biases, the researcher pre-tested the interview questions for their neutrality, relevance, and comprehensiveness in capturing the research themes. The respondents were college undergraduate level students in a library at the time of the study. The researcher observed the ethical code of conduct in carrying out a scientific study. For instance, official permission from the relevant authority and the respondents was obtained and respondents (Mason, 2018). The respondents were also assured of their privacy through the informed consent letter attached to the interview questionnaire.
Through the coding and analysis process, three themes emerged in the data. They all refer to the following research question: how do college students’ work habits while in the library affect how well they think they are doing in their classes? The first theme is all work habits of college students in the library revolve around the Internet. The second theme is that the work habits students developed in the library had the same impacts on their work in class. The final theme is that the work habits of college students help them to save time and quickly find relevant resources. To analyze the reliability of the above topics and provide some evidence of their relevance, the interviews and field observations were analyzed.
The Work Habits of College Students in the Library All Revolve Around the Internet
Based on the observations, it can be noted that the interests of many students are constantly connected to the Internet. After the observation in the library, visual evidence was gathered that showed that the prevailing number of college students who were there used electronic communication devices. The second floor of the library where there were computers with access to the Internet was livelier than the first floor. Many students either used mobile phones or spent time on the Internet, and engaged in a variety of activities. A large number of students using the Internet can be explained by the fact that many practical tasks involve the use of the network, and many useful resources can be found there.
The interviews confirm that almost all students prefer Internet resources to outdated print media. According to the survey, materials online are not different from those that can be found in printed forms. Almost every student has access to the Internet. The World Wide Web makes it possible to realize educational goals and, at the same time, provides a large list of entertainment. Social networks where students spend much time also serve as the source of new knowledge. Moreover, many academic disciplines imply the continued use of the Internet. For instance, respondent A expressed;
“It seems to me that today, almost all students prefer to search for relevant information in the network to a long and painstaking study of tutorials and student books. Also, I can claim that I prefer proven sources of data and almost never try to find the information that I need on different databases.”
Sometimes, it is convenient for professors to post assignments online so that all students can see them and download necessary materials. This approach makes it possible to systematize the learning process and achieve high productivity. Respondent B noted, “I have always been using the Internet, and I think it is the best way to search for any information.” It is difficult to find a student who would have problems using the Internet. Therefore, the World Wide Web becomes an integral part of the educational process and helps both students of colleges and tutors.
According to the results of field observations, it can be noted that many young people did not sit at tables but moved around the library. However, it did not prevent them from having access to educational materials since there was constant access to the wireless network in the room. Someone snacked because the smell of food was felt, and someone was engaged in personal affairs. The possibility of unhindered access to the Internet through personal devices attracts students and proves the fact that the learning process is inextricably linked with the use of modern network capabilities.
The Work Habits Students Had in the Library Have Some Impacts on Their Classes
As the conducted practice shows, work habits that students have in the library affect their productivity in class. According to the interviews, the use of the Internet is an integral part of studying. The better students are guided by the opportunities provided by the Internet, the higher is the chance that their academic performance will be high. For instance, respondent C, asserted, “when you do not have much free time, which, among other things, you need to spend on preparing for classes, it is easy to turn to the Internet for help and significantly simplify the task.” It is largely because the search for necessary materials always takes time, and if college students skillfully use the Internet and know-how to benefit from this experience, they will save time and will be able to prepare for classes fruitfully.
During field observations, it was noted that the training process was inextricably linked with the use of computer technologies. Regularly spending time online was natural for most students in the library. It is direct evidence of the fact that modern means of education have densely entered the learning process. Ignoring the Internet at present is impossible, therefore, tutors, as a rule, take this factor into account and introduce the use of technologies in the educational process. According to the results of the interviews, the continued use of the Internet allows students to better understand some of the instructions that are attached to various assignments. For instance, respondent A noted;
“It seems to me that my habits, first of all, give me an opportunity to save time on other important activities. Regardless of whether I am preparing for a project, doing a term paper, or looking for material to speak at a conference.”
Because college students spend much time on the Internet, they remember many similar types of tasks, which allow them to perceive the given material correctly and successfully cope with work performance.
According to the interviews, regardless of the type of activities performed by students, they express confidence that they can always find the right material online. It helps them to perform tasks of varying complexity and not to make mistakes caused by the lack of knowledge or insufficiently high-quality materials. For instance, respondent D asserted, “It seems to me that my habit of using the Internet… including in the library, cannot adversely affect my academic performance. The only thing that can be regarded as a potentially inefficient activity is excessive attachment to my smartphone.”
Knowledge about the capabilities of the Internet helps to quickly assess the range of tasks that need to be considered and find appropriate ways to solve them. Such work habits are useful and inalienable today, and, according to students, it is foolish to try to shield oneself from the Internet because much useful information and can be found on this virtual resource and used as a successful learning tool. Therefore, acquired skills have a profound impact on student’s performance and learning process.
The Work Habits of College Students Help Them to Save Time and Quickly Find Relevant Resources
According to students, one of the main advantages of using virtual resources in preparation for classes is the convenience and speed of finding necessary materials. When conducting field observations, many young people were seen either using stationary computers that were in the library or bringing their devices. As respondent E pointed out, “the constant use of the Internet makes it possible not to waste time on filtering unnecessary sources and databases”. If students regularly spend time on the World Wide Web, they know which platforms are best suited for specific purposes and where to go to find relevant materials quickly and efficiently.
One of the obvious advantages of regularly using the Internet is speed. Preparation for various projects can take up much free time. That is why many students come to the library in order not to waste time on long searches of printed resources, but to take advantage of the Internet’s capabilities and to find all the necessary data in the shortest time possible. Respondent C noted that “the need for records and having various notebooks is eliminated since all that is needed is a flash card for copying the material found.” Smartphones that virtually every student has can also play the role of computers. As it can be seen from the observations, many college students are passionate about their cell phones because, having access to a wireless network, they can also successfully find necessary resources.
However, there are some shortcomings in such habits. Excessive attachment to the World Wide Web can adversely affect efficiency since many students are too passionate about social networks and spend too much free time on nothing. The constant checking of e-mail, chatting with friends, and other similar activities may interfere with the quality of preparation for classes. Respondent A noted, “I spend much extra time on unnecessary things, for example, checking mail or replying to messages.” Therefore, it is essential to use time rationally and to monitor the use of electronic devices so that an excessive hobby does not develop into a serious addiction. If a strong attachment is not manifested, the use of Internet resources will certainly bring more benefit to students than harm in preparing for classes.
Limitations and Area of Future Research
The sample space for the study was very small, that is, five respondents and two observations. This renders the research findings ineffective and cannot be used to generalize the results as representational of the impacts of schoolwork activities in the library on class activities. Therefore, there is a need for further research on the same topic by expanding the sample space to at least 50 respondents to draw a dependable scientific inference.
The data obtained in the course of observational work and conducting interviews helped to uncover some themes and answer the research question posed about students’ work habits. The main emphasis was on using the Internet as one of the primary resources in preparing for classes. Respondents pointed out the benefits of the Internet and claimed that the opportunities provided significantly speed up the process of work and make it easier. Some shortcomings related to strong attachment to electronic devices were observed. Therefore, it is essential to monitor the amount of time spent online to avoid the potential negative impacts of schoolwork habits on class activities.
Lepp, A., Barkley, J. E., & Karpinski, A. C. (2015). The relationship between cell phone use and academic performance in a sample of US college students. Sage Open, 5(1), 1-9.
Mason, J. (2018). Qualitative researching (3rd ed.). London, UK: SAGE Publications.
Mokhtari, K., Delello, J., & Reichard, C. (2015). Connected yet distracted: Multitasking among college students. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 45(2), 164-180.
Petty, T. (2014). Motivating first-generation students to academic success and college completion. College Student Journal, 48(2), 257-264.
Appendix 1: Interview Guide
Current Research Question
“How do college students’ work habits while in the library affect how well they think they are doing in their classes?”
Hello. My name is xxx, and I am researching how students think their library skills affect their academic performance. I would like to ask you ten questions about your experience as a student if you do not mind. It will take about 20 minutes. Our conversation will be anonymous, and any personal data of yours will remain confidential. The information that you will provide during the interview will be used for research purposes. Do you mind if our conversation will be recorded? It will help analyze the information accurately.
- Do you have any particular work habits that you use when searching for resources in the school library? If so, what are they?
- What are the key work habits that you use in the library?
- Why do you think these work habits are important in the library?
- How do you think these work habits used in the library affect your school performance?
- Do you consider some of these work habits in the library inefficient for your classes? If so, why, and how do you intend to improve them?
- How would you rank your work habits for resource search in the library (from the best to the worst ones)? Why?
- Do you want to improve your work habits in the library and use them during classes? If you do, how do you intend to improve your skills, and why do you think it is necessary for your performance?
- How do you think your work habits in the library have helped you in understanding teachers’ instructions?
- What difficulties do you currently have understanding teachers’ instructions, if any?
- Do you think your work habits can help with your difficulties? How are you going to address these difficulties and improve your skills when studying in the library by yourself?
That would be all. Thank you for participating in the study and taking your time to answer my questions! Do you have any questions that you would like to ask? Please, feel free to ask me anything about the study and how your responses will be used for it. Thank you for taking your time to participate in the research! I appreciate your cooperation. It was a pleasure to work with you!
Appendix 2: Field notes (Observation)
To receive full information regarding my research question about how college students’ work habits in the library affect how well they think they are doing in their classes, I will go to the Odegaard undergraduate library of UW. It is the site where representatives of different faculties spend much time. Here, it is possible to easily find respondents and ask them to answer several questions. Such a site is a good place to receive valuable data about which work habits are typical for the participants of the study and what impact they have on the process of their learning.
Location, Date, and Time of Observation Period
The place of data collection was the Odegaard undergraduate library of UW, in particular, its first and second floor, where physical space can be found. I went there on April 20th, 2018, on Friday, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. It is the time interval when the largest number of students can be met in the library since most of them spend time working on the upcoming assignments. First, I studied the first floor and the layout of the workspace, and then I went up the stairs to the second floor and conducted additional analysis of the atmosphere there.
Description of the Site
Having come to the first floor of the library, I noticed that there was free space, although a large number of people were in the room. Students worked in groups, uniting at the same table, and also sat separately with their records. Most people were dealing with books and not with computers. Some students communicated with their mates and some worked in silence. On the first floor, there were also specially closed studios where people could work in a calm atmosphere. It cannot be said that the floor was very noisy, but a large number of people involuntarily made a lot of sounds when talking to one another.
The atmosphere on the second floor was more formal than on the first one. Here, most of the students worked on laptops, and many used cell phones. Some students used printers and scanners. And some were returning the book they borrowed back to the front desk. I also saw a couple of students were having a conversation with the librarians. It was a little noisier there compared to the first floor, but there was also enough space to move around freely and not to distract people. Some students did not sit at tables and walked around. And there were several students brought food there such as pizza, sandwich, so I felt the smelling of food.
When looking from the stairs on the first floor, it was possible to notice that people were more focused there. To conduct the observation, it would be interesting to discuss some of the details of my research with those who were upstairs and those who preferred a calmer atmosphere on the first floor. There was a place to relax, and there was enough space for work. Most of the students on the second floor worked individually. The work process took place in a noisy environment with many extraneous sounds. Through my observation, I feel the library is not just a place to study and do the assignments instead it’s a multi-function place for a student to use.
The Odegaard undergraduate library of UW is a good site to find people who are ready to answer questions and help to conduct a study. Not all students were deeply involved in the learning process, and it was unlikely to be difficult for them to answer a few questions concerning their work habits. As a target audience, the visitors of both the first and second floors could be interviewed.