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Academic performance differences among ethnic groups: do the daily use and management of time offer explanations?


This explorative study describes time use and time management behaviour of ethnic minority and ethnic majority students as possible explanations for the poorer study results of ethnic minority students compared to those of majority students. We used a diary approach in a small sample to examine students’ daily time use in both a lecture week and an exam week. Time management behaviour was measured in a questionnaire, as were demographic variables. The sample consisted of 48 full-time first-year university students of Business Administration of which 24 students belonged to a non-Western ethnic minority group. Student pairs (ethnic majority vs. non-Western ethnic minority) were fully matched by gender, socio-economic status, living situation and type of secondary education. Results showed that ethnic majority students earned higher grades compared to ethnic minority students. As regards time management behaviour, ethnic majority students appeared to have a stronger preference for organisation (e.g., leaving a clear study space at the end of a study day) than ethnic minority students. No differences between ethnic groups were revealed in setting goals and priorities (e.g., setting deadlines) and mechanics of time management (e.g., making to-do lists). Daily time use also appeared to be the same for both ethnic groups.

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    In the Netherlands, students have access to university education after completing pre-university education (i.e., a VWO degree), after successfully completing the first year in higher vocational education or the bachelor in higher vocational education, and after obtaining a colloquium doctum.


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Correspondence to Marieke Meeuwisse.

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Meeuwisse, M., Born, M.P. & Severiens, S.E. Academic performance differences among ethnic groups: do the daily use and management of time offer explanations?. Soc Psychol Educ 16, 599–615 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-013-9231-9

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  • Time use
  • Time management
  • Higher education
  • Ethnic background
  • Academic success