The relationship between study habits and academic accomplishment among medical students in Kermanshah, Iran

The relationship between study habits and academic accomplishment among medical students in Kermanshah, Iran

H. Jafari, A. Aghaei, and A. Khatony are the authors.

Accepted for publication on July 29th, 2019.

Volume 2019:10, Pages 637—643, 15 August 2019.

Yes, plagiarism was checked.

Alireza Khatony31, Haleh Jafari1, Abbas Aghaei2

Imam Reza Hospital Clinical Research Development Center, Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences, Kermanshah, Iran; 2Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Kurdistan University of Medical Sciences, Sanandaj, Iran; 3

Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences Health Institute, Social Development and Health Promotion Research Center, Kermanshah, Iran

Study habits are the most important predictors of academic success and have a significant effect on students’ academic progress. The purpose of this research was to look at the state of study habits and their link to academic accomplishment among medical students in Kermanshah, Iran. Materials and procedures: This cross-sectional research included 380 medical students from Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences. The samples were randomized to the research at random. The Palsane and Sharma research Habit Inventory was utilized to gather data. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to examine the data. The mean grade point average of pupils was 15.731.5 out of 20 and the mean overall status of study habits was 45.7011.36 out of 90. The condition of study habits was moderate in 81.3% of the pupils. Study habits and academic success have a clear and substantial link. Conclusion: The majority of students study habits were modest. As a result, it is advised that students’ study habits be considered and assessed at the time of entrance into university; also, particular training should be provided to students in order to assist them to acquire or improve study habits in order to boost their academic performance. Keywords: academic success, student, study habits In reaction to this piece, a letter to the editor was published.

Introduction
One of the primary metrics used to assess the quality of education at universities is student academic achievement.
1,2 Academic achievement is a complicated process impacted by a variety of variables, including study habits.
2 A study habit is a unique individual behavior in regard to studying3 that combines a study approach and competence. 4 In other words, study habits are behaviors and abilities that may boost motivation and transform studying into an efficient process with high returns, thus increasing learning. 5 This talent is also described as any action that aids in the process of learning about a subject, solving difficulties, or remembering a portion or all of the contents offered. 3 Study habits, which vary from person to person, are the key to success. 4

Previous research has found that good study habits include studying in a quiet place, studying on a daily basis, turning off devices that interfere with study (such as TV and mobile phones), taking notes on important content, taking regular rests and breaks, listening to soft music, studying based on one’s own learning style, and prioritizing difficult content.

6 Procrastination, evasion, studying in improper surroundings, and listening to music or watching television while studying are some of the worst study habits. 7

The most significant predictor of academic achievement is study habits, and worldwide research has demonstrated that study habits impact academic performance.

8 In this sense, medical students must arrange and acquire a vast quantity of material that demands knowledge and the application of study skills. 5,9 Evidence reveals that learners who lack enough knowledge about study techniques do not acquire effective and steady learning, and so do not reach an optimal level of academic success. 3 In other words, kids with higher academic performance make more use of these talents than students with lower academic accomplishment. 10

Given the importance of study skills in a student’s academic accomplishment, several major institutions, like York University in Canada and the University of California, Berkeley, now teach study skills to newly enrolled students.

11 Study skills and habits, as well as their association with students’ academic accomplishment, have been researched in many studies, with varying findings reported. 1,3,12 Moreover, different research has shown that students’ study habits range from poor to desired. 5,7,10 In this context, a study of the study habits of students in 21 medical colleges in Iran found that 32% of the students lacked critical study abilities and habits. 10 Many studies have established a favorable and substantial relationship between students’ study habits and their academic success. 4,6,7,10 However, no significant association was discovered between these two factors in Lawrence’s research. 1

The current study was designed and implemented with the importance of student study skills and habits and the important role they play in students’ academic achievement in mind, and with the knowledge that study habits vary from person to person and from place to place, and with the knowledge that the results of related studies differ from one another. The purpose of this research was to look at the link between study habits and academic accomplishment among medical students at Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences (KUMS) in Iran.

Design of the study Methods
The current research was done between November 2017 and April 2018 and used a descriptive-analytical and cross-sectional design.

Research questions
We attempted to find answers to the following questions: 1) What is the current state of students’ study habits in terms of characteristics such as faculty, site of study, academic degree, probation history, residential status, and gender? 2) What is the current state of students’ academic accomplishment in terms of characteristics such as faculty, location of study, academic degree, probation history, residency status, and gender? and 3) What is the link between students’ academic accomplishment and their study habits?

Sample and sampling procedure
The sample size was calculated using the PASS/11 program. According to the findings of Nourian et al’s (2011) research, in which the greatest standard error rate was 0.96,11 the minimum sample size was determined to be 328 persons with a first type error of 0.05 and an accuracy constraint of 1 unit. With a 15% chance of not answering, 380 students were included in the research. The samples were drawn at random from several KUMS faculties, including medicine, nursing and midwifery, dentistry, paramedicine, pharmacology, and health. The university’s faculties established the sample classes. The number of samples in each class was chosen at random from a random table of numbers in proportion to the size of the class. As a result, the sample sizes for each faculty were as follows: medical school =130 students, dentistry =20 students, pharmacology =30 students, health =50 students, nursing and midwifery =50 students, and paramedicine =100 students. Inclusion criteria were a willingness to engage in the research and a second-term or higher education. Absence on the sample day and failure to answer all questionnaire questions were exclusion criteria.

Instruments of measurement
Individual data collection forms and the Palsane and Sharma Study Habit Inventory were used as research tools (PSSHI). Individual information forms asked about age, gender, marital status, faculty of study, academic degree, probation history, native or non-native status, and previous term grade point averages (GPAs) (s).

The PSSHI is a standard tool developed in India by Palsane and Sharma (1989)10, and its reliability is higher than that of other study habits questionnaires.

13 Previous studies have confirmed the validity and reliability of the original version of this questionnaire. 10,14,15 According to Siahi and Maiyo (2015), the PSSHI has a reliability coefficient of 0.88. 7 The reliability coefficient of the Persian version of this tool has also been reported as 0.88. 10 In the current study, content validity analysis was used to determine the validity of the instrument. For this aim, the questionnaire was disseminated to 12 panels of experts at KUMS. They were asked to evaluate the questionnaire’s fluency, clarity, and relevance. It was then altered based on their feedback. The PSSHI’s reliability was investigated using the test-retest method. In this regard, the questionnaire was distributed to 20 students, and they were asked to respond to it after a 2-week interval. The correlation coefficient between pre-test and post-test scores was 0.87, which was satisfactory.

PSSHI has 45 questions and assesses students’ study habits in eight areas, including time management (five items), such as “I study at a specific time of day.”

; physical conditions (six items), for example, “I am frustrated by the noise around me.”

; learning motivation (six items), for example, “if I don’t understand something, I ask for help.”

; reading ability (eight items), for example, “I read the main points of the intended chapter before reading it.”

; note-taking (three items), eg, “I take notes while reading the text.”

; memory (four items), eg, “I read some materials without sufficient understanding.”

; taking tests (ten items), eg, “before responding to the test questions, I read all the questions first.” and studying health (three items), for example, “if the test result is not good, I am disappointed.” Responses are graded from two to zero on a three-option Likert scale that includes “always or most of the time,” “sometimes,” and “rarely or never.” Inverse scores are assigned to questions 6, 9, 13, 15, 24, 26, 34, 36, 37, 41, and 42. The questionnaire has a score range of 0 to 90, with a score of 60 and above indicating a desirable level of study habits, a score of 31-60 indicating a relatively good or moderate level of study habits, and a score of 30 or below indicating an undesirable level of study habits. The following is the score range for each sub-category: Time management: 0–10; physical conditions: 0–12; learning motivation: 0–12; reading ability: 0–16; note-taking: 0–6; memory: 0–8; test-taking: 0–20; and study health: 0–6. The three-part spectrum method was used to compute the achieved score for each sub-category. To do so, subtract the lowest score from the highest score and divide the result by three. The resultant number was a three-grade distance, indicating the favorable, generally desirable, and unpleasant degrees of each sub-category.

The GPA(s) of the preceding term(s) were used to judge academic success, which ranges from 0 to 20 in the Iranian educational system. A GPA of 17 or more was deemed “excellent academic performance,” 14-16.99 was regarded as “average educational achievement,” and less than 13.99 was considered “bad educational achievement.”

Method of data collecting
First, approval to perform the research was sought from the KUMS Deputy for Research and Technology and provided to the linked faculties’ authorities. Following that, a list of students from each faculty was obtained from the Department of Education, and samples from each faculty were chosen. The chosen samples were then contacted in accordance with the classroom schedules, and after explaining the aim of the research to them, a copy of the questionnaire was provided to those who consented to participate in the study. If any of the samples did not want to continue participating in the research, he or she was replaced by someone on the list above or below him or her. The researcher collected the surveys once they were completed.

Data examination
The 18th edition of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences was used to analyze the data (SPSS v.18.0; SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). The data were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. Initially, the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was employed to analyze the normality of the data, which revealed that the academic success of students did not have a normal distribution, but the evaluation of study habits did. Mann–Whitney The U test was used to evaluate academic success using dual-mode qualitative factors (such as gender and marital status), whereas the Kruskal-Wallis H test was used to compare academic achievement using multi-mode qualitative variables (such as academic degree and faculty of study). To assess academic success in terms of quantitative factors, the Pearson correlation coefficient was utilized. To compare the mean of study habits in terms of dual-mode qualitative factors (gender and married status), the t-test was utilized, and ANOVA was used to examine the mean of study habits in terms of multi-mode qualitative variables (such as academic degree and faculty of study). To evaluate the association between academic accomplishment and study habits, the Pearson correlation coefficient was utilized. Significant p-values were those less than 0.05.

The research was authorized by the Kermanshah University of Medical Science’s Ethical Review Committee under the code: KUMS.REC.1395.292. The study’s objectives were communicated to the participants, and they were guaranteed the confidentiality of their information and replies. All participants also provided informed written permission.

Results
This survey included 380 students, with 65.3% (n=248) males and 34.3% (n=132) females. The pupils’ average age was 22.262.9 years. The majority of the students (91.1%, n=346) were unmarried and had no history of probation (92.1%, n=350). The bulk of the students (34.2%, n=130) were from the colleges of medicine and paramedicine. The majority of students were pursuing Ph.D. degrees (47.4%, n=180) or undergraduate degrees (45.5%, n=173). They were also mostly indigenous pupils (59.2%, n=225) (Table 1).

Students study habits received a mean score of 45.711.36 out of 90. Only 10% (n=38) had desired study habits, whereas 81.3% (n=309) had intermediate study habits. Furthermore, 8.7% (n=33) of them were at an unfavorable level. In terms of the eight areas of study habits, most students’ status was undesirable in taking notes (50.2%, n=191) and well-being (48%, n=182), but desirable in time (27.3%, n=104). Most students’ status in the other areas was moderate (Table 2).

As an indicator of academic achievement, the mean of students’ total GPA for the term(s) was considered, which was 15.731.5 out of 20. Students in the faculties of health and medicine had the greatest and lowest levels of academic accomplishment, with mean and SD of 16.271.48 and 15.081.39, respectively, indicating a statistically significant difference (p0.001). The highest and lowest levels of academic achievement were associated with MSc and doctoral students, with means and standard deviations of 16.981.61 and 15.191.38, respectively, indicating a statistically significant difference (p0.001). Academic success was considerably greater in students without a history of probation than in those with a history of probation, with a mean and SD of 15.861.42 and 14.201.67, respectively (p0.001). Female students outperformed male students in terms of academic achievement, with mean and standard deviations of 16.151.34 and 15.51.5, respectively. This variation was statistically significant (p0.001) (Table 1).

Students from the faculties of nursing and midwifery and dentistry had the highest and lowest mean of study habits, with mean and SD of 48.669.63 and 43.2012.58, respectively, which was not statistically significant. MSc and undergraduate students had the highest and lowest average study habits, with a mean and SD of 5711.34 and 44.5211.99, respectively, which was not statistically significant. Students without a history of probation had significantly better study habits than students with a history of probation (p0.001), with a mean and SD of 46.1611.04 and 40.3313.69, respectively. The results showed that female students’ study habits were better than male students, with a mean and SD of 46.689.91 and 45.1812.05, respectively, but this difference was not statistically significant. Native students had significantly better study habits than dorm students (p0.001), with mean and SD values of 46.9810.67 and 43.5812.23, respectively.

The Pearson correlation test revealed a direct and significant relationship (r=0.235, p0.001) between academic achievement and study habits.

Discussion
In our study, the majority of students had moderate study habits, with only one-tenth having desirable study habits. Mendezabal (2013) found that in a study of 239 Filipino students study habits, their study habits were moderate, indicating insufficient and ineffective study skills. 12 A study of librarian students in Iran, on the other hand, found that the overall level of students’ study habits was 60.5 out of 100. 5 Although the level of study habits was moderate in this study, it was higher in our study, which could be attributed to differences in the nature of medical sciences and librarian academic programs. In another study, Garner (2013) conducted on 59 undergraduate chemistry students in the West Indies, the level of study habits was desirable in 59.2% of the students and poor in the remaining students. 16 The difference between the results of this study and our study could be attributed to the low number of participants in Garner’s study as well as differences in the tool used to measure study habits, because the tool used in Garner’s study classified study habits into two levels, good and poor, and eliminated the intermediate level, which may have reduced the accuracy of data and the study’s comparative capability.

According to our findings, the status of study habits in most students was undesirable in the areas of taking notes and well-being, but desirable in the area of time. The majority of students in the other areas had moderate study habits. The outcomes of studies vary depending on the different areas of study habits. A study of 150 nursing students in Iran found that the majority of the students’ problems were related to taking notes, reading ability, time management, well-being, memory, motivation, learning, physical condition, and taking tests. 22 In some studies, time management has been described as one of the major problems for medical students. 17,18 Mendezabal (2013) also referred to problems such as ineffective time management, lack of planning and concentration, poor study skills, and inadequate examination techniques. 12 The differences in the areas of study habits can be attributed to the individual differences between the samples and their previous educational systems.

In our study, the students in the faculties of nursing and midwifery, and dentistry had the highest and the lowest mean study habits, respectively. This difference was not statistically significant. Despite the fact that this variable has not been discussed in most studies, this finding reflects the relatively similar level of study habits in the students of various medical sciences academic programs.

In our study, there was no significant difference between different educational levels in terms of mean study habits. In other words, the level of study habits at different educational levels was equal. Our results are in line with the study of Fereydoonimoghadam and Cheraghian. 19 According to the authors of the present article, every student of medical sciences, regardless of what degree level he/she is studying at, should be aware of study skills and habits and how to apply them.

In the present study, students with no history of probation had the significantly better status of study habits compared to the students with a history of probation. Despite the fact that many studies have not addressed this variable, Rezaie and Nourian in their studies, have pointed to a meaningful relationship between probation and poorer academic performance, and have considered study habits as an important factor influencing these variables. 10,11 In this regard, Khan (2016) described poor study habits as the most important reason for students’ academic failure. 20 In our perspective, students with low academic performance, by employing the correct skills and study habits, may improve their academic performance and so avoid the onset of educational difficulties, such as losing academic units/credits and the possibility of probation.

In our research, the status of study habits in male and female students did not vary from one considerably, in other words, in terms of abilities and study habits, male and female students were at the same level. Oli (2018), Hashemian (2014), and Torabi (2014) likewise did not identify any significant difference between the student’s gender and study habits,5,21,22 which might be attributable to the identical educational environment for male and female students. From our perspective, any student, whether male or female, should be aware of study techniques and habits and employ them.

We discovered that native students had considerably better study habits than dorm students. Some research, however, did not find statistical relevance between study habits and location of residence. 14 In our perspective, the circumstances of one’s place of living, particularly one’s location of study, have a significant impact on students’ study habits. Failure to adhere to appropriate dormitory standards, as well as a lack of a suitable setting and surroundings, may have a detrimental impact on student’s performance.

We discovered a favorable and substantial relationship between academic performance and study habits, which is similar to the findings of previous research by Fereydoonimoghadam and Cheraghian (2009), Alimohamadi (2018), and Rabia (2018). (2017).

13,19,23 Lawrence (2014) and Torabi (2014), on the other hand, found no statistically significant association between study habits and academic success. 1,21 We think that the use of study methods and habits may help students improve their academic performance. Academic accomplishment and fulfilling educational objectives need the presence of multiple aspects, the most significant of which is the study habits of individuals,13 since the employment of varied and effective study techniques increases students’ academic performance. Strengthening each of the eight areas of study abilities may help students enhance their academic performance, thus these areas must be prioritized. Because academic achievement is a predictor of job success, it is critical to pay attention to this problem and implement suitable solutions to enhance students’ study habits. Meanwhile, due to the high sensitivity of future professions in medical students, as well as the requirement for complete curriculum acquisition, paying attention to the state of study habits and promoting them is vital.

This research has certain drawbacks. First, this was cross-sectional research, and the nature of cross-sectional studies makes determining causal links between study variables impossible. Another weakness of this research was the technique of data collection, which was self-reporting. Despite telling the samples that their replies would be kept anonymous, this strategy may have impacted the accuracy of our findings.

Conclusion
In our survey, most students’ academic performance and study habits were mediocre, which is not adequate given the nature and significance of medical sciences. There was a substantial association between students’ study habits and academic success. Given the importance of study habits in students’ academic achievement and future careers, and given that the majority of study habits can be taught and corrected, it is recommended that students study habits be measured upon admission to the university and throughout their studies so that they can receive training to learn or modify study habits. The current investigation was done on medical students. It is suggested that comparable research be undertaken on students from other scientific disciplines. Conducting qualitative research to investigate the elements influencing students’ study abilities and habits may also be beneficial.

Acknowledgments
The deputy of research and technology at KUMS (grant number 95306) sponsored this effort. The authors would like to thank the president and coworkers of KUMS’s deputy of research and technology, as well as all of the students who participated in our study patiently. We also like to thank the clinical research development center at Imam Reza Hospital, which is linked with KUMS, for their assistance.

Disclosure
There are no conflicts of interest reported by the authors in this paper.

1. Lawrence A. Relationship between study habits and academic accomplishment of high school students. Online Submission. 2014;4(6):143-145.