Balduf reports that almost all students entering a post-secondary institution for the first time were not adequately prepared in terms of study skills, time management abilities and motivation (2009). This finding gave rise to the decision to retest this hypothesis in the current study. In comparing the sample used by Balduf and the current study a number of significant differences emerge: Balduf used as her population, 83 students who were on academic probation from their college, a small degree-granting institution. Only seven students, or 8.6% of this population, agreed to participate in her study. It is possible that, when she chose to interview these subjects, they were more interested in rationalizing their poor academic performance by attributing it to poor time management or lack of preparation by their high school environment. A better referential study is the one conducted by George et al. In this study of a random sample of undergraduate students, a number of personal behaviours and time did correlate with higher GPA.
The fact that the current sample showed no correlation between a self-assessment on time management ability and academic performance may have a number of attributions. It may be that students are not able to effectively assess whether they have good time management skills and strategies. The students in the current study were in the first two weeks of the first semester of their post-secondary program and may not have been in a position yet to assess their time management skills and abilities vis a vis the demands of a post-secondary environment.
If we turn our attention to how students spend their recreational time, we see that, except for volunteerism, the amount of time students spent in any recreational activity was negatively correlated with their sense of time management ability as measured by the 11 question survey. Volunteerism may be an aberration since 26 of the participants reported spending no time volunteering and 7 reported spending between 0 and 2 hours per week. The remaining 2 participants reported spending between 2 and 5 hours and between 10 and 20 hours per week respectively.
While time management is an important factor in academic success, it is a poor predictor of that success. The exception may be computer game playing. Time spent playing computer games correlated very strongly with performance on the first exam (p<0.01) and still showed a strong relationship with academic performance over the entire semester (email@example.com). 6 of the 35 participants reported spending more than 20 hours a week playing computer games. This finding is surprising; anecdotally, many professors can list at least one student who became so involved in computer games that their academic grades suffered. Perhaps those students most passionate about computer games may also be passionate about computer programming—the common thread here being passion around computers and technology. At the same time, it should be noted that time spent on social networking sites was not positively correlated with academic performance. Further work will be required to verify or understand these findings.