Academic boredom, approaches to learning and the final-year degree outcomes of undergraduate students

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Academic boredom is a largely negative and disabling achievement-related emotion. In this mixed-methods exploration of 224 students attending a single university in England, academic boredom was found to arise at the point of course delivery, while studying at other times and during the completion of assignments for assessment. Quantitative data from the recently adapted Boredom Proneness Scale for use across the UK higher education sector (the BPS-UKHE) and the Approaches and Study Skills Inventory for Students (ASSIST), enriched with qualitative data from 10 semi-structured research interviews, indicate that those with a higher propensity towards academic boredom than others displayed the deep, strategic and surface profiles of ‘less effective learners’. This was reflected in their interest in ideas, their ability to organise resources and manage time, what they had to memorise or do to ‘get by’, their achievement motivation and their sense of purpose. As part of a greater evolving network of other contributing factors, this translated into lower final degree marks and fewer ‘good’ degree awards. Recommendations surrounding boredom mitigation and approaches to learning are suggested which warrant serious consideration. The work presented here makes an important contribution to a surprisingly neglected field of UK higher education research and the student engagement agenda.




Sharp, J. G., Hemmings, B., Kay, R., & Atkin, C. (2018). Academic boredom, approaches to learning and the final-year degree outcomes of undergraduate students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 42(8), 1055–1077.

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