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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Computer Science

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Robert Moll


The subject of this thesis is an observational investigation of the effect on outcomes of three behavior patterns students follow during the course of a fourteen week semester in two large, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) college courses: an introductory Computer Science course and an introductory Chemistry course. Both courses employed a computer-based system that recorded student textbook and homework activity. The behavior patterns we investigated are: 1) “book-first”- reading and interacting with the textbook material before working homework problems, 2) “infrequent-session”- long stretches of time between short working sessions with book or chapter homework material, and 3) “working-late”- submitting homework close to the due date. In order to assess the effect of these patterns on outcomes, i.e. final exam scores, we created features to measure the amount of textbook interaction, the relative length of time between work sessions, and the amount of work submitted close to due dates. Our analysis showed a statistically significant, positive effect of following a book-first strategy for students in all courses, and a greater positive effect for novice students. For the second study, we found evidence that the pattern of short working sessions with long intervals was related to lower exam scores. In the third study, we found a negative effect of late work on final exam scores. We found novice students were more negatively affected than experienced students.