Research Suggests a 'Gap Year' Motivates Students
As policymakers ponder how to get students to complete college, some parents and researchers suggest a counterintuitive strategy: Encourage students to take time off school after graduation.
The concept of a gap or bridge year—usually involving six months to a year of travel, service learning, or other experiential programs—appears to be taking hold in the United States after decades of use in Europe and Australia. Moreover, new research suggests time off may help students become more motivated to complete a degree after they come home.
In the Journal of Educational Psychology last month, University of Sidney researcher Andrew J. Martin conducted two studies on the academic motivation and performance of more than 2,800 high school and college students. He found that Australian students were more likely to take a gap year if they had low academic performance and motivation in high school. Yet former “gappers” reported significantly higher motivation in college—in the form of “adaptive behavior” such as planning, task management, and persistence—than did students who did not...
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