Research Papers

Document Type

Conference Paper


With the educational expansion, ever more students start a tertiary degree. At the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, an engineering school, the number of bachelor students increased from 3’713 in 2010 to 6’330 in 2022. However, in Switzerland, a considerable number of students fail to achieve their first university degree – and failure rates are even higher at engineering schools. A weak mathematics background is often identified as the main reason for dropout. In this paper, we are interested to test whether inadequate learning habits are also responsible to some extent for first-year dropouts. To this end, we matched admission data with self-assessed data about learning habits. These learning habits include time management, effort regulation, and the learning strategies of elaboration and organization (204 ≤ N ≤ 823). These scales are based on one of the most often used instruments for self-regulated learning, the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire, and have been shown to correlate with academic success in various fields (Credé and Phillips 2011).

Using logistic regressions, we find that time management and elaboration are correlated with higher probabilities of study success. Furthermore, higher scores in all learning habits but organization are related to a lower probability to repeat the first year of a bachelor's degree. Thus, together with better math skills, learning habits contribute to more and faster success in STEM fields and thus to higher student retention.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.