Measuring study time distributions: implications for designing computer-based courses

Behav Res Methods Instrum Comput. 1999 May;31(2):263-9. doi: 10.3758/bf03207718.


In both traditional lecture-test courses and courses delivered over the World-Wide Web (WWW), both beginning and experienced college students reported studying almost exclusively just before exams. Automatic measures (computer records, WWW page hits, and electronic mail archives) confirmed the self-reported distributions of study times. Weekly deadlines produced weekly volleys of taking on-line quizzes, a pattern that was reflected in self-reports of study times. However, on-line study materials were used primarily for review for regularly scheduled in-class exams. Thus, regardless of course format, students engaged in massed practice and did not experience study aids at appropriate times. Computer technology provides new forms of learning for students, as well as opportunities for instructors to observe patterns of student study time. Management of instructional contingencies will be necessary to bring students into contact with the rich cognitive aids enabled by technology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Behavior
  • Cognition
  • Computer-Assisted Instruction*
  • Curriculum
  • Internet
  • Psychology / education
  • Time Factors