An Investigation of the Relationship between In-Class and Out-of-Class Efforts on Student Learning: Empirical Evidence and Strategy Suggestion

Tin-Chun Lin


In this paper we explore and discuss an important research question in higher education – is there a trade-off relationship between in-class and out-of-class efforts for students? We used an empirical model to test the trade-off hypothesis between these two efforts. We identified a trade-off between in-class and out-of-class efforts, especially for those students who do not perform well on examinations. We clarified possible reasons for this relationship in a lower-performing student group and noted potentially harmful implications for higher education. We recommended that instructors work individually with students in setting appropriate goals for each exam and frequently offering feedback. Doing so can strengthen rapport between students and faculty, thereby enhancing students’ motivation to learn and confidence in utilizing faculty as a learning resource. We also recommended a classroom-based game play strategy to promote students’ motivation to learn and encourage their participation.


In-class effort; Out-of-class effort; Complements; Substitutes; Goal setting theory; Rapport.

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