Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Education, Health & Behavior Studies

First Advisor

Richard G. Landry


The purpose of this research was twofold. The first part explored the study habits of lower-division undergraduate college students during independent study time, with special inquiry into sustained attention and mental effort. A questionnaire and focus groups answered research questions that explored students' general study practices, their study habits, factors influencing study, the length of sustained attention and mental effort, the strategies used to maintain attention, perceptions about productivity, and the metacognitive strategies used (i.e., self-monitoring, self-regulating, planning, and self-evaluating). The study showed that 1) students do not spend enough time studying, 2) the more time students spent on the job, the less they studied; 3) different factors impeding study were identified by the different age groups; 4) only 67% of study time was characterized by productive, sustained mental effort; 5) of the variability on productivity, 15.5 % could be accounted for by the use of metacognitive strategies; and 6) students reported using strategies most related to knowledge and comprehension goals rather than higher order thinking goals.

The purpose of the second part was to investigate the perceived impact of the use of a brain-based study strategy. Participants used a 20 to 25 minute study segment, followed by a two to five minute break, in which cross-midline body movement was employed. The research focused on questions about the benefits of the study strategy, its effectives in increasing sustained attention, its effect on the length of time studied, its influence on better learning and productivity, and its continued use. After a two-week trial, 15 students completed an individual interview about their results using the strategy. Students reported increasing their attention and productivity and positively impacting their grades and learning. They attributed their successes to use of the strategy and indicated that they would continue its use.

Three major conclusions emerged: 1) students need to study more and more productively, 2) professors need to teach study strategies, structuring their courses to include study strategies as an integral part of the course content, and 3) metacognitive study strategies (both cognitive and effort management) and higher order thinking strategies should be taught and supported.

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