What is it about?

Although research shows higher levels of perceived academic control are associated with academic adjustment in the first year of university, little is known about how changes in perceived control over multiple years relate to longitudinal university dropout and grades. Thus, our 3-year study (N = 1,007) examined whether changes in perceived control predicted university dropout and whether this relationship was mediated by university grade point average (GPA). Latent change score models showed that although first-year perceived control declined on average, there were high levels of variability between students, so that perceptions of control increased for some students. Discrete time survival analysis models showed that such positive changes in perceived control were associated with reduced dropout rates. Increases in perceived control also predicted higher subsequent university grades. Finally, we confirmed that the relationship between perceived control and dropout was mediated by university grades. Findings advance the literature in highlighting longitudinal linkages between perceived academic control and university grades and their influence on subsequent dropout. Implications for instructors and institutions to support adequate control perceptions, especially in the first academic year, are discussed.

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Why is it important?

The present study focuses on students’ control beliefs over their academic outcomes and its relevance for university dropout and grades. Results suggest an overall decline of students’ control beliefs within a 3-year degree program, and this decline was associated with a higher risk of university dropout and poorer university grades. These findings highlight the importance of developing evidence-based methods to support students’ control beliefs.

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This page is a summary of: Linking changes in perceived academic control to university dropout and university grades: A longitudinal approach., Journal of Educational Psychology, July 2019, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/edu0000388.
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