Survey Longevity - Student Study Habits

By Elizabeth Horan, Coastline College

In fall 2016 Brian Greene (Columbia College) and I conducted a survey about student study habits at each of our colleges.  I was at Coastline College in Orange County where a high majority of students were taking online classes and had no physical college library.  Brian Greene was in the central valley at Modesto Junior College with two campuses, two physical libraries, and most students taking classes on campus. The results of the survey surprised both of us because our students reported the same study habit issues even though their age, demographic, student status (full vs part-time), and geographical location were so different.  The survey led to a book chapter about commuter community college students (ALAstore) and really helped both of us think about how we could best serve our students through the library.

One thing I was pretty passionate about after getting the survey results was that Coastline continue to survey students about their study habits.  The quantitative information was good but the qualitative information was amazing. I worked with our research office to survey students once a year and they agreed to fold the study habits survey into their GRIT survey. GRIT is passion and perseverance for long-term-goals.1 Three years of data showed students still struggled with the same issues: time management, places to study, work/life balance, etc. but Coastline College started creating targeted interventions to help students around these issues. These interventions are offered face to face and online and now the study habits survey has a closing message highlighting some of the services and changes Coastline has made over the past few years based on the survey. It is indirect marketing in a way to let students know about these resources.

When I revisited this topic recently I realized the data from the study habit survey has been a little siloed and should be shared more broadly with Coastline College and especially with our Pathways project groups. Data that shows when students study and what times should help to inform funding choices for 24/7 online tutoring and technical support.  The days students study (still mainly Monday - Friday) might change faculty due dates for online classes.  

The student study habits survey transformed the way I looked at library services at Coastline College. I think it could transform the way other departments look at their services too if shared beyond the few groups it has been shared with. My plan is to work with the Research Department to create presentations about the survey and to present it to the Coastline Constituency groups. I hope it will spark a bigger conversation about how we can support our students with their study habits and with their work-life balance.  At a time when our colleges are seeing more homelessness and food insecurity the Student Study Habits survey has turned into a primary document of students telling us what is going on in their lives.  It has become a powerful voice telling a story our whole college needs to hear.


1. See Duckworth (2019) for more information: