Research Output

Skills, learning styles and success of first-year undergraduates

  This study investigates the relationships between students' confidence in their generic skills on entry to university, their learning styles and their academic performance in first year. Research based on a large cohort of Scottish undergraduates found that students generally entered university feeling very confident that they already possessed good skills, and there was a suggestion of over-confidence in that those who failed the year entered with slightly higher confidence than other students. However, those students who withdrew during the year had significantly less confidence. The most significant combination of factors in explaining success in first year were a low score on the activist learning style scale and high initial confidence in the skills of self-reliance, time management and teamwork, together with lower initial confidence in written communication skills. The implications of this research are discussed and some suggestions made for improving educational practice.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    01 November 2007

  • Publication Status:


  • Publisher

    SAGE Publications

  • DOI:


  • Cross Ref:


  • ISSN:


  • Library of Congress:

    LB2300 Higher Education

  • Dewey Decimal Classification:

    378 Higher education


Goldfinch, J., & Hughes, M. (2007). Skills, learning styles and success of first-year undergraduates. Active learning in higher education, 8(3), 259-273. doi:10.1177/1469787407081881



academic performance, business undergraduates, generic skills, learning styles, retention

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