An assessment of reading compliance decisions among undergraduate students

Amit Sharma, Bert Van Hoof, Barton Pursel


Research suggests that reading compliance among undergraduate students is low. This study assessed the factors that influence students’ decisions to comply with their assigned course readings using two theoretical underpinnings: students’ ability to self-ration time and construal effects on their decision process. Data collected through focus group discussions with undergraduate students and analyzed using qualitative methods suggested that both these behavioral economics theories may provide valuable insight into students’ decision-making behavior related to reading compliance. The study found that students’ decisions to read are influenced by both personal and external factors, several of which pertain to their instructors. Students also admitted that lack of time and their inability to self-ration time towards reading tasks negatively impact their reading compliance behavior. The study found evidence of construal effects in the students’ understanding of the potential benefits of reading compliance, given that several of these benefits would occur beyond their immediate future. The conceptual mapping of the results offers several propositions for future research.


Reading compliance; construal level theory; behavioral economics; self-rationing inefficiency; time management; study skills

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ISSN 1527-9316