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I don’t depend on the visiting hours of my tutors any longer. Convenient online tools provide direct feedback on my progress

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Save Money

What strikes me the most: Distance education programmes are often cheaper than their traditional counter parts

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Raise in status

Suddenly, my boss looks at me in a different way. Even my salary increased!

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Psychological and biological factors influencing your study results

By DARCO/EADTU

There are plenty of factors influencing your learning process either in a positive or a negative way. In addition to what is already determined by your genes, according to various sources the following biological and psychological factors play an important role.

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Biological factors

  • Nutrition is essential for organs to develop (building material), but also to let it operate (fuel). On average, as much as 25% of all energy a human daily takes in with ones food goes directly to the brains. At those moments when the brain goes through major developments such as during childhood and adolescence this percentage may increase to 65%.
  • Caffeine is one of the most consumed psychoactive substances around the world. Caffeine is not bad for health, some researchers even show positive effects. Caffeine appears to reduce fatigue. And in this way also has an indirect effect on learning. Regarding cognitive function, caffeine has an effect on reaction time. Some studies also show a positive effect on long-term memory.
  • Sport is healthy, as more and more research shows. For example, sport ensures that certain substances in the body are released, which have a significant effect on the brains. These compounds support brain functions and increase the ability to learn and perform. Research has shown that elderly people who on a daily basis have a medium to heavy physical effort of at least 30 minutes have a better cognitive performance than people who do not.
  • Sleep is a biological factor that can affect the learning performance of people. In particular, too little sleep has a major impact. It leads to memory and concentration problems, people have more difficulty responding flexibly to new situations and there is a stronger response to emotionally negative stimuli.

Psychological factors

  • Learning strategy: everyone has their own preference for a strategy to learn and study. Some prefer to make a summary, others highlight or underline important text, and read the same text several times. But the preference that someone follows is not always the most effective strategy. There is a distinction between learning strategies at a superficial level, and at a deeper level. Learning through repetition is an example of learning at a superficial level. Learning at a deeper level involves, for example, the ability to determine important information and make connections between certain concepts. Learning at a deeper level has proven to be a better predictor for successful learning in the long term than on a superficial level.
  • Self-regulating capacity has a positive relationship with academic achievement. When someone has a large self-regulating capacity, he / she is well able to orient, plan, monitor and adapt his / her behaviour or learning processes and strategies during learning tasks.
  • In addition it also appears that self-directed learning has a positive correlation with academic success. Such a person is able to assess his / her own learning needs, establish personal goals, take decisions about which learning strategies to use and is able to assess the outcomes.
  • The literature shows a positive correlation between self-esteem and academic achievement, but it is not clear which way this effect works. The assumption is that the higher your self-esteem, the better you perform in school. But it is also possible that the effect works the other way around: the better you perform in school, the higher your self-esteem is as a result.
  • A factor which generally has a negative influence on the study-success rate is fear of failure.
  • Self-efficacy is a term used in education to indicate whether a person believes he or she is able to successful complete courses or certain specific tasks. Multiple studies have shown that there is a positive correlation between self-efficacy and academic performance actually achieved. Someone with as a high self-efficacy for English writing, strongly believes that he or she is well able to write an English text and as a result will get a good grade for an English writing assignment.
  • Someone with a persistence to study from an intrinsic motivation (internal drive by person self to study) will in the long term perform better than someone with persistence from an extrinsic motivation (i.e. showing behaviour because of a certain reward).

Universities in the spotlight

Swansea University

Swansea, United Kingdom

Swansea University is a research-led university that has been making a difference since 1920. The University community thrives on exploration and discovery, and offers the right balance of excellent teaching and research, matched by an enviable quality of life.

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Cardiff University

Cardiff, United Kingdom

Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain's leading teaching and research universities. Founded by Royal Charter in 1883, the University today combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research with its proud heritage of service and achievement.

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University of Leeds

Leeds, United Kingdom

The University of Leeds is a major teaching and research university in Leeds, West Yorkshire; one of the largest in the United Kingdom with over 33,000 full-time students.

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Durham University

Durham, United Kingdom

Established in 1832, Durham University is the third oldest university in England and one of the world’s leading centres of scholarship and learning. The University has two sites; Durham City, where 13 of the University’s colleges are based, and Queen’s Campus at Stockton, which is home to our remaining two colleges. Both locations offer a range of academic facilities, innovative modern buildings with all the amenities you will need for the best possible student experience.

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University of Birmingham

Birmingham, United Kingdom

Birmingham has been challenging and developing great minds for more than a century. Characterised by a tradition of innovation, research at the University has broken new ground, pushed forward the boundaries of knowledge and made an impact on people’s lives.

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