UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Students who spend a lot of time studying may be wasting their time because 'there is very little relationship between studying and grades,' research by Pennsylvania State University shows.
'We never would have predicted it, but studying may not pay off in high grades,' Dr. Edward J. Walsh, associate professor of sociology, said Thursday. 'There seems to be very little relationship between studying and grades.
Walsh said 'It is a fundmental belief in our society that hard work produces rewards,' but he and Dr. Howard Schuman, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, were unable to support that belief from their findings in a series of research investigations of college students directed by Schuman over the last 10 years.
Their research appears in an article in the June issue of the journal Social Forces. Two former students of Schuman are co-authors of the article.
If the amount of time spent studying has no relationship to grades, class attendance does, they found.
Students who do well attend class more often than those with lower grades, Walsh said. Those students with the worst record of class attendance got the worst grades.
'It could be that doing well may bring students to class,' he said.
The investigators also found that students who sit in the first three rows report higher grades than those who sit in the back of the room. It may be that students who care less and are less involved in the class sit in the back, Walsh said.
He advises students interested in high grades to attend class regularly, listen carefully, be selective in what they study and use their time prudently.
'I suspect that studying is more important in smaller classes where there is more opportunity for discussion and more essay tests that would benefit a student who has done extra reading or work for the course,' Walsh said.
'Grades, however, may not be all that important. They have not been shown to be highly correlated with later success in life, however you measure success. It is more important to follow your interests even if you are not rewarded.'