Future time orientation predicts academic engagement among first-year university students

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Horstmanshof, L & Zimitat, C 2007, 'Future time orientation predicts academic engagement among first-year university students', British Journal of Educational Psychology, vol. 77, no. 3, pp. 703-718.

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Background. Enhancing student engagement is considered an important strategy for improving retention. Students' Time Perspective is an under-researched factor that may significantly influence student engagement. Aims. This study examines interrelationships between elements of student engagement and relationship with Time Perspective. We propose that there are significant relationships between psychological and behavioural elements of student engagement. We also posit that time orientation is an important factor in facilitating psychological and behavioural elements of student engagement. Sample. Participants (N=347) were first-year undergraduate students who had completed one semester of study and re-enrolled for a further semester of study at an Australian university. Methods. Participants were surveyed using instruments designed to measure Academic Application, Academic Orientation (McInnis, James, & Hartley, 2000), Time Perspective (Zimbardo & Boyd, 1999), the shortened version of the Study Process Questionnaire (Fox, McManus, & Winder, 2001) and hours spent preparing for class. Results. There were interrelationships between the elements of student engagement (e.g. Academic Application) with productive educational behaviours (e.g. deep approach to learning). Students' perceptions of time appeared as a key factor mediating levels of Academic Application and Academic Orientation. Orientation to the Future emerged as a significant predictor of these elements of engagement. Conclusions. Future orientation emerged as an important factor mediating students' academic engagement in these students who completed one semester of study. Interventions focusing on the development of time perspective may be helpful in encouraging and supporting academic engagement and, ultimately, persistence in higher education

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