Differential Use of Study Approaches by Students of Different Achievement Levels

Published In

Journal of Chemical Education

Document Type


Publication Date



This study examined similarities and differences in study approaches reported by general chemistry students performing at different achievement levels. The study population consisted of freshmen enrolled in a required year-long general chemistry course at the U.S. Naval Academy. Students in the first and second semesters of the course were surveyed using a modified version of the published Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST) referred to as the M-ASSIST (Modified Approaches and Study Skills Inventory). Responses to items associated with using deep or surface approaches to studying were examined for students of three achievement levels (A/B, C, and D/F course grades) using both ANOVA and Structured Means Modeling to look for differences in study approaches between achievement levels. Results show that, with only 12 items, the M-ASSIST can be used to measure differences in reported use of deep and surface approaches by students in different achievement groups; that Structured Means Modeling can uncover significant differences that are not apparent with an ANOVA analysis of the same data; and that A/B and D/F students can be classified as reporting using either using primarily deep (A/B students) or primarily surface (D/F) study approaches. C students reported study approaches characteristic of both the A/B and D/F groups, leading to the interpretation that C students may be in an intermediate and possibly transitional state between the higher- and lower-grade groups. These results suggest a new understanding of C students as those who may not fully implement deep approaches to studying but, in general, demonstrate less reliance on surface approaches than lower-achieving students.



Persistent Identifier