Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Relationship Between Academic Trait Boredom, Learning Approach and University Achievement

  • Brian Hemmings (a1), Russell Kay (a1) and John G. Sharp (a2)


This study explored factors that influence academic achievement and hence, future career prospects. The relationships between the factors, academic trait boredom, approach to learning and academic achievement were examined using data collected from university students at a small English university and from their student records. The initial statistical analysis revealed significant effects of gender on learning approach and two of the three academic trait boredom subscales. Female students proved to be less prone to academic trait boredom than their male counterparts. A model was then developed that showed how a student’s choice of learning approach was influenced by academic trait boredom and impinged on academic achievement. This modelling also confirmed that students who are more prone to academic trait boredom are also more likely to adopt a surface approach to learning rather than a deep or strategic one. The results of this investigation have implications for students, lecturers, course designers and learning support staff both here in this one location as well as elsewhere across the higher education sector.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Brian Hemmings, Email:


Hide All
Abedin, N.F.Z., Jaafar, Z., Husain, S., & Abdullah, R. (2013). The validity of ASSIST as a measure of learning approach among MDAB students. Procedia: Social and Behavioral Sciences, 90, 549557.
Acee, T.W., Kim, H., Chu, H.R., Kim, M., Cho, Y., & Wicker, F.W. (2010). Academic boredom in under-and over-challenging situations. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35, 1727.
Augar, P. (2019). Independent panel report to the post-18 review of education and funding (the Augar Review). London: Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.
Belton, T., & Priyadharshini, E. (2007). Boredom and schooling: A cross-disciplinary exploration. Cambridge Journal of Education, 37, 579595.
Biggs, J.B. (1987). Student approaches to learning and studying. Melbourne, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.
Boekaerts, M., & Pekrun, R. (2015). Emotions and emotion regulation in academic settings. In Corno, L. & Anderman, E.M. (Eds), Handbook of educational psychology (3rd ed, pp. 7690). London: Routledge.
Brantley, P.J., & Sutker, P.B. (1984). Antisocial behavior disorders. In Adams, H.E. & Sutker, P.B (Eds.), Comprehensive handbook of psychopathology (pp. 439478). New York, NY: Plenum Press.
Brennan, A.F., Walfish, S., & Aubuchan, P. (1986). Alcohol use and abuse in college students. I. A review of individual and personality correlates. International Journal of the Addictions, 21, 449474.
Brown, R., & Carasso, H. (2013). Everything for sale? The marketization of UK higher education. London: Routledge.
Bryan, N., & Williams, T.M. (2017). We need more than just male bodies in classrooms: Recruiting and retaining culturally relevant Black male teachers in early childhood education. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 38, 209222.
Byrne, B.M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, application, and programming. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Centre for Research on Learning and Instruction. (2006). Approaches and Study Skills Inventory (ASSIST) manual. Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh.
Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2008). Personality, intelligence and approaches to learning as predictors of academic performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 44, 15961603.
Constantini, P., & Vitale, M.P. (2011). Analyzing undergraduate student graduation delay: A longitudinal perspective. In Attanasio, M. & Capursi, V. (Eds.), Statistical methods for the evaluation of university systems (pp. 145160). Berlin: Springer.
Curtis, S., & Shani, N. (2002). The effect of taking paid employment during term-time on students’ academic studies. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26, 129138.
DeNavas-Walt, C., Proctor, B.D., & Smith, J.C. (2013). Income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States: 2012. Current population reports, consumer income, P60245. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2010). Securing a sustainable future for higher education: An independent review of higher education funding and student finance (the Browne Review). London: HMSO.
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2011). Higher education: Students at the heart of the system. London: HMSO.
Diseth, Å. (2007). Approaches to learning, course experience and examination grade among undergraduate psychology students: Testing of mediator effects and construct validity. Studies in Higher Education, 32, 373388.
Dobson, I.R., & Sharma, R. (1999). Student performance and the cost of failure. Tertiary Education and Management, 5, 139155.
Duff, A., Boyle, E., Dunleavy, K., & Ferguson, J. (2004). The relationship between personality, approach to learning and academic performance. Personality and Individual Differences, 36, 19071920.
Entwistle, N., Hanley, M., & Hounsell, D. (1979). Identifying distinctive approaches to studying. Higher Education, 8, 365380.
Fahlman, S.A., Mercer-Lynn, K.B., Flora, D.B., & Eastwood, J.D. (2013). Development and validation of the multidimensional state boredom scale. Assessment, 20, 6885.
Farmer, R., & Sundberg, N.D. (1986). Boredom proneness: The development and correlates of a new scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 50, 417.
Fisher, C.D. (1993). Boredom at work: A neglected concept. Human Relations, 46, 395418.
Goetz, T., Frenzel, A.C., Stoeger, H., & Hall, N.C. (2010). Antecedents of everyday positive emotions: An experience sampling analysis. Motivation and Emotion, 34, 4962.
Hair, J.F., Black, W.C., Babin, B.J., & Anderson, R.E. (2010). Multivariate data analysis: A global perspective (7th ed.). London: Pearson.
Jaradat, A-K. (2015). Differences in boredom proneness according to gender and academic achievement. Indian Journal of Health and Wellbeing, 6, 982985.
Jose, P.E. (2013). Doing statistical mediation and moderation. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
Kreber, C. (2003). The relationship between students’ course perception and their approaches to studying in undergraduate science courses: A Canadian experience. Higher Education Research & Development, 22, 5775.
Lizzio, A., Wilson, K., & Simons, R. (2002). University students’ perceptions of the learning environment and academic outcomes: Implications for theory and practice. Studies in Higher Education, 27, 2751.
Mann, S., & Robinson, A. (2009). Boredom in the lecture theatre: An investigation into the contributors, moderators and outcomes of boredom amongst university students. British Educational Research Journal, 35, 243258.
Marton, F., & Säljö, R. (1976). On qualitative differences in learning: I – outcome and process. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 46, 411.
Mauss, I.B., & Robinson, M.D. (2009). Measures of emotion: A review. Cognition and Emotion, 23, 209237.
McGettican, A. (2013). The great university gamble: Money, markets and the future of higher education. London: Pluto Press.
McLaughlin, J., & Durrant, P. (2017). Student learning approaches in the UAE: The case for the achieving domain. Higher Education Research & Development, 36, 158170.
Mercer-Lynn, K.B., Flora, D.B., Fahlman, S.A., & Eastwood, J.D. (2013). The measurement of boredom: Differences between existing self-report scales. Assessment, 20, 585596.
Moroldo, G.K. (1986). Shyness, boredom and grade point average among college students. Psychological Reports, 59, 395398.
Office for National Statistics. (2011). Graduates earn 12,000 a year more than non-graduates (Press release). Newport, UK: Author.
Pekrun, R. (2000). A social-cognitive, control value theory of achievement emotions. In Heckhausen, J. (Ed.), Motivational psychology of human development (pp. 143163). Oxford: Elsevier Science.
Pekrun, R. (2006). The control-value theory of academic emotions: Assumptions, corollaries and implications for educational practice. Educational Psychology Review, 18, 315341.
Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Daniels, L.M., Stupinsky, R.H., & Perry, R.P. (2010). Boredom in achievement settings: Exploring control-value antecedents and performance outcomes of a neglected emotion. Journal of Educational Psychology, 102, 531549.
Pekrun, R., Goetz, T., Titz, W., & Perry, R.P. (2002). Academic emotions in students’ self-regulated learning and achievement: A programme of quantitative and qualitative research. Educational Psychologist, 37, 91105.
Pekrun, R., Hall, N.C., Goetz, T., & Perry, R.P. (2014). Boredom and academic achievement: Testing a model of reciprocal causation. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106, 696710.
Perkins, R.E., & Hill, A.B. (1985). Cognitive and affective aspects of boredom. British Journal of Psychology, 76, 221234.
Pew Research Center (2010). Millennials: Confident. connected. open to change. Washington, DC: Author.
Phan, H.P., & Deo, B. (2008). ‘Revisiting’ the South Pacific approaches to learning: A confirmatory factor analysis study. Higher Education Research & Development, 27, 371383.
Plant, E.A., Ericsson, K.A., Hill, L., & Asberg, K. (2005). Why study time does not predict grade point average across college students: Implications of deliberate practice for academic performance. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 30(6), 96116.
Raisman, N. (2013). The cost of college attrition at four-year colleges and universities: An analysis of 1669 US institutions. Virginia Beach, VA: The Educational Policy Institute. Retrieved from
Ramsden, P. (1992). Learning to teach in higher education. London: Routledge.
Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138, 353387.
Rytkönen, H., Parpala, A., Lindblom-Ylänne, S., Virtanen, V., & Postareff, L. (2012). Factors affecting bioscience students’ academic achievement. Instructional Science, 40, 241256.
Sharp, J.G., Hemmings, B., & Kay, R. (2016). Towards a model for the assessment of student boredom and boredom proneness in the UK higher education context. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 40, 649681.
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, 10551077.
Sharp, J.G., Sharp, J.C., & Young, E. (2018) Academic boredom, engagement and the achievement of undergraduate students at university: A review and synthesis of relevant literature. Research Papers in Education. doi: 10.1080/02671522.2018.1536891
Skues, J., Williams, B., Oldmeadow, J., & Wise, L. (2016). The effects of boredom, loneliness, and distress tolerance on problem internet use among university students. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 14, 167180.
Snelgrove, S., & Slater, J. (2003). Approaches to learning: Psychometric testing of a study process questionnaire. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 43, 496505.
Sundberg, N.D., Latkin, C.A., Farmer, R.F., & Saoud, J. (1991). Boredom in young adults: Gender and cultural comparisons. Journal of Cross-cultural Psychology, 22, 209223.
Teixeira, C., Gomes, D. & Borges, J. (2013). The approaches to studying of Portuguese students of introductory accounting. Accounting Education: An International Journal, 22, 193210.
Touron, J. (1983). The determination of factors related to academic achievement in the university: Implications for the selection and counselling of students. Higher Education, 12, 251266.
Trigwell, K., Ellis, R., & Han, F. (2012). Relations between students’ approaches to learning, experienced emotions and outcomes of learning. Studies in Higher Education, 37, 811824.
Trusty, J., Robinson, C.R., Plata, M., & Kok-Mun, N. (2000). Effects of gender, socioeconomic status, and early academic performance on postsecondary educational choice. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 463472.
Tze, V.M.C., Daniels, L.M., & Klassen, R.M. (2016). Evaluating the relationship between boredom and academic outcomes: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 28, 119144.
Tze, V.M.C, Klassen, L.M., & Daniels, L.M. (2014). Patterns of boredom and its relationship with perceived autonomy support and engagement. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 39, 175187.
Tze, V.M.C., Klassen, R.M., Daniels, L.M., & Li, J.C.-H. (2013) Canadian and Chinese university students’ approaches to coping with academic boredom. Learning and Individual Differences, 23, 3243.
Vodanovich, S.J. (2003). Psychometric measures of boredom: A review of literature. The Journal of Psychology, 137, 569595.
Vodanovich, S.J., & Kass, S.J. (1990). Age and gender differences in boredom proneness. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 5, 297307.
Vodanovich, S.J., & Watt, J.D. (2016). Self-report measures of boredom: An updated review of the literature. The Journal of Psychology, 150, 196228.
Vodanovich, S.J., Kass, S.J., Andrasik, F., Gerber, W-D., Niederberger, U., & Breaux, C. (2011). Culture and gender differences in boredom proneness. North American Journal of Psychology, 13, 221230.
Wallace, J.C., Vodanovich, S.J., & Restino, B. (2003). Predicting cognitive failures from boredom proneness and daytime sleepiness scores: An investigation with military and undergraduate samples. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 635644.
Watt, J.D., & Blanchard, M.J. (1994). Boredom proneness and the need for cognition. Journal of Research in Personality, 28, 4451.
Watt, J.D., & Vodanovich, S.J. (1999). Boredom proneness and psychosocial development. Journal of Psychology, 133, 303314.
Welker, A.L., Nazar, K.L., & Bonfati, P. (2015, June). Recruiting and retaining women engineers: An analysis of a successful college program. Paper presented at the 122nd ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition. Seattle, WA.
Wilson, K.L., Smart, R.S., & Watson, R.J. (1996). Gender differences in approaches to learning in first year psychology students. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 66, 5971.
Woehr, D.J., & Cavell, T.A. (1993). Self-report measures of ability, effort, and non-academic activity as predictors of introductory psychology test scores. Teaching of Psychology, 20, 156160.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

The Relationship Between Academic Trait Boredom, Learning Approach and University Achievement

  • Brian Hemmings (a1), Russell Kay (a1) and John G. Sharp (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.