The Relationship between Learning Strategies and Academic Achievement in Thesis Research Processes: A Case Study in an Undergraduate Management Program in Peru

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Completing a thesis is a challenging task for undergraduate students, as it requires a proper combination of research skills, advisor guidance, personal motivation, and even field opportunities. Students often feel disoriented about the identification of a viable research topic, the selection of a suitable research design, the conduction of fieldwork, and the analysis and report of results. Therefore, many of them have a weak performance in the corresponding research seminars and end up procrastinating their theses. In Latin American countries, and in Peru in particular, developing an undergraduate thesis is an optional task. All students that fulfill the course load and prepare a research work, mostly based on secondary sources, are entitled to a bachelor’s degree. Yet only those who complete a thesis, following the processes of design, fieldwork, analysis and report, receive the professional title. While in some careers this title is mandatory for professional practice, in others it is not. Management programs are among the latter. A distinctive feature of the management program at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru is that it requires all students to successfully defend their theses, so all of them eventually obtain both degrees. To enhance the construction of viable research projects, the first research seminar is jointly offered by groups of three professors, so students may benefit from different perspectives about this crucial stage in the research process. Then, in the following research seminar, an advisor guides them through the processes of fieldwork, analysis of data, and report of results. Since March of 2020, both seminars are offered online and will likely remain so. In this context, the purpose of this research is to analyze the relationship between pedagogical strategies and academic achievement in these seminars. The research design included a survey of 434 students registered in both seminars during the term 2020-1. The independent variables included the strategies used by professors (regarding research methods orientation, supporting resources and tools, and advisor guidance) as well as those used by the students themselves (regarding workload and time distribution, use of supplementary resources, and search of additional orientation). The dependent variables were the grades obtained in both seminars and in the thesis as a whole. In this way, the study provides a comprehensive approach to the variety of strategies applied by professors and students during the development of their theses. It also elucidates which strategies are more effective to generate successful research experiences. Lastly, it allows the identification of clusters of students according to different combinations of these strategies. This research conveys several implications for the key stakeholders in the case analyzed. First, it helps program directors to improve and strengthen the pedagogical approach in these courses. In addition, it offers thesis advisors an accurate perspective about which strategies may be more or less effective to enhance students’ research. Lastly, it also helps students to understand the variety of strategies that they could use in their research projects.
Original languageSpanish
Title of host publication15th annual International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

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